Yes it’s true. In order for our country to solve its unemployment and long-term debt problems, the Super Committee must become the Inept Committee.
As I write this, the Washington Post’s countdown-to-deadline clock reads “5 days 15 hours 40 minutes 47 seconds.”
The committee was formed as part of the solution to last summer’s debt-ceiling debacle. It’s made up of six Republicans, all of whom signed the Norquist anti-tax pledge, and six Democrats, all of whom are supportive of Obama’s plan to reduce the federal deficit with a mixture of spending cuts and tax increases.
A couple of weeks ago there was some movement by the Right towards the middle spurred by a bipartisan letter from 100 House Representatives that asked the Super Committee to consider all options including revenue increases. I wrote at the time that maybe they were influenced just a wee bit by the Occupy Wall Street, “We are the 99%” movement, but apparently not. E. J. Dionne explains:
Finally, the Republicans decided they needed to look slightly flexible. So they came up with $300 billion in supposed revenue from a promised tax reform in a plan that also included a proposal to slash tax rates for the rich.
Surprisingly the Democrats did not capitulate and accept their ridiculous offer – yet.
If the committee doesn’t reach a deal, then automatic spending cuts will be triggered – including cuts to the defense budget – and the Bush tax cuts would expire after 2012. So, the anti-tax, pro-defense spending Republicans should be very eager to reach a deal with the Democrats in order to avoid what they would consider excessive tax increases and cuts to the defense budget. Their revenue deal offered a trillion dollars less than what the Democrats want, and it included tax cuts for the rich. Why would they do that? Because when dealing with spineless Democrats, intransigence has proven to be the method that works best for them. For the past dozen years or so, the Democrats have almost always ended up caving in to their demands. This time let’s hope they do not.
Because the Democrats have not yet capitulated, the Republicans are trying to reverse the part of the deal that would cut military spending if the Super Committee fails. The Republicans say that the cuts would destroy jobs, and our country needs more jobs – not less. But why is it that Republicans approve of job-creating government spending on wars, weapons, and military personnel but disapprove of job-creating government spending on education, first responders, and infrastructure rebuilding? And if military spending is so dear to Republicans, why won’t they ask their “base” to chip in by paying more income tax?
Paul Krugman explained quite well in today’s column:
… the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.
In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment. But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and slashing government spending is a job-creation strategy. Try getting a leading Republican to admit that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit or that sharp cuts in government spending (except on the military) would hurt the economic recovery.
Moreover, the parties have sharply different views of what constitutes economic justice.
Democrats see social insurance programs, from Social Security to food stamps, as serving the moral imperative of providing basic security to our fellow citizens and helping those in need.
Republicans have a totally different view. They may soft-pedal that view in public — in last year’s elections, they even managed to pose as defenders of Medicare — but, in private, they view the welfare state as immoral, a matter of forcing citizens at gunpoint to hand their money over to other people. By creating Social Security, declared Rick Perry in his book “Fed Up!”, F.D.R. was “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for many in his party?
Not me. The Republicans are ruthless in their quest to destroy our social safety nets and, as they say, “take our country back” to a time when working people were poor, died young, and existed only to serve plutocrats. You know… the good old days.
The Republicans are not going to budge on the revenue side, so the only way the Super Committee would not fail would be if the Democrats agreed to massive spending cuts on everything but the military and received no tax increases in return.
Dionne’s column says that the revenue increases that would kick in if the committee fails would amount to $7.1 trillion. It would be best to delay the tax increases on the middle class until the unemployment rate goes down, but given the choice of tax increases on the rich or tax cuts for the rich, I’ll take the increases. Some of the increased tax revenue should be spent government projects that create jobs. The jobs will increase demand for products and services which will grow our economy. It will take time, but not nearly as long as it would if the radical Republicans get their way and destroy jobs with drastic cuts to government spending during this severe economic downturn.