Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Republicans on the deficit committee propose increasing the deficit

If this time next week the deficit committee (Super Congress) has not agreed on a deal to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years we're going to be hearing a lot about their failure to do so. And the blame game over who is responsible will commence. So lets be clear about what happened.

The Democrats proposed a balanced approach that would make painful cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid while also increasing tax revenue. Their plan would reduce spending by $1 trillion and raise $1 trillion in taxes.

What the Republicans proposed was to go even further with spending cuts and increase revenue by $300 billion. In exchange, they have insisted on making the Bush tax cuts permanent (they are set to expire on 1/1/2013) - which would actually increase the deficit by $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Yes, that's trillion with a "t." So any spending cuts they might come up with would be totally wiped out with tax cuts. And remember, those Bush tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the wealthy. So in other words, their plan would be to continue to run up the deficit - all while hurting poor and middle class Americans and extending the goodies to the 1%.

Last night the Republican co-chair of the committee Jeb Hensarling made failure seem inevitable.

Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue — the kind of revenue Dems are demanding — it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent — is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that’s an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious.

Perhaps that's why Reid and Boehner met yesterday to try to see if they could salvage something. But it looks like Norquist's anti-tax hold on the GOP prevailed based on this from the twitterverse.


Remember what this kind of failure by the committee means: Mr. Norquist may have just assured us that the Republicans will spend the 2012 election year in a "guns vs butter" battle to get further cuts to domestic programs in exchange for restoring cuts to defense. Oh...and they'll also have to work on getting those Bush tax cuts extended as well. If you don't see how this will overtake the conversation for the 2012 campaigns, then you're not paying attention. The GOP may be about to provide President Obama with an alternative to "it's the economy, stupid." You think maybe we'll be hearing a bit about foreign policy, what a dangerous place the world is, and how we so desperately need to spend money on defense? And how cutting government spending raises unemployment? Yeah, that's a whole new conversation we're about to enter. Bring. it. on.

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