Remember back a few months? Those days of anger directed at Republicans for their “refusal” to compromise with the well-meaning Democrats on any deficit reduction plan? You know, one that also had tax increases? They were labeled obstructionists, unreasonable and blocking the path to real “reform.”
Last Monday, to no ones surprise, the supercommittee threw up its hands and cried uncle. It had failed to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years. A mere drop in the bucket in terms of the predicted $40 trillion to be spent in that time frame, but nevertheless labeled a goose with no egg at all.
At least this goose cannot be laying that scrambled egg at the Republican’s doorstep now that the truth be known.
Last week the Republicans did try to compromise against their better instincts. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) offered a 10-year, $1.5 trillion debt reduction plan that would raise around $500 billion in new revenue, while at the same time cutting spending by $750 billion. Utterly remarkable considering the freshman lawmaker’s past record on taxes and compromises.
In other words, he isn’t for them. His very presence on the committee signaled to most in Washington that the Republicans would never leave the supercommittee with any thought of compromise. Toomey strongly feels that Washington has a spending problem in 2011, not a revenue shortfall. While Democrats advocate soaking the rich as the way to prosperity, Toomey and his colleagues feel this road would lead to America’s downfall in economic and world stature.
In the end, Democrats still balked at the surprising Toomey compromise. Yes, even though they were dealing with one of the most hardened Republicans turned “soft,” they took a walk. The Democratic plan obviously being that as long as the perception in the country was Republicans won’t agree to anything (pals of the rich), they have the upper hand in next year’s election.
Most clear thinkers realize doing nothing through the supercommittee to promote pro-growth tax reform and meaningful spending cuts is a vast disappointment. Congress now is embracing unthinkable consequences down the road. It has kicked the can once again to the next Congress in 2013, and those decisions won’t be made for at least another year – or really 14 months until their swearing in, whoever they are.
Although many skeptics are insistent that trigger cuts now taking the supercommittee’s place will never happen (mostly activated in 2013), Defense Secretary Leon Penata has warned that the new trigger cuts will gut the military with its share being $350 billion. It also postpones the inevitable cuts necessary for reform of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The drunken sailor with an open credit card still roams the halls of Congress. It’s hard to identify that sailor as Republican anymore after the supercommittee’s politically-motivated collapse.
The question remains: Will voters ingest this comedy of errors correctly?
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