Wouldn’t it be great to think that the congressional super committee is going to reach a bipartisan deal? Politically, it would be so refreshing to see Washington function for a change. But experience suggests to me that when all the smoke clears, there will be no deal.
So, you ask, what will happen? The Republicans will double-down for even emptier posturing than they’re engaging in now, this time with regard to defense cuts. You think things can’t get worse? HA!! Just wait.
Let’s compare the plans. The Democratic proposal, released by senator and committee member Max Baucus the other day, looks to cut $3 trillion from the budget. The Republican plan, leaked in parts to The Wall Street Journal and Politico after Baucus moved, cuts just $2 trillion. If it seems strange to you that Democrats are proposing more deficit reduction than Republicans, you aren’t alone. The reason is that the Republicans are, of course, proposing that it all be done with cuts…no tax revenue…while the Democrats include $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion in new revenue.
Republicans will hammer away that their plan does include “revenue.” Joe Scarborough, fake “impartial” MSNBC personality and chronic part-narcissist, part co-host abuser, has dutifully started the right-wing propaganda machine running this past Friday morning.
And I guess in some minimalist, technical way, it does. It’s just not tax revenue. But wait—it is tax revenue! But from a tax decrease! Yes: The GOP plan says the government will raise $200 billion by cutting corporate and individual taxes. You know, the exact same way the Bush tax cuts increased revenue, which is to say, not in the real world, but in the minds of Mitch McConnell and other GOP propagandizers, who actually have deluded themselves to think the Bush tax cuts raised revenue. So when they say “our plan raises revenues,” remember their track record.
Now, it behooves me to say that the Democrats have said with the Baucus plan that they’re ready to deal if Republicans will (sound familiar?). Their plan includes $500 billion in entitlement program cuts. They’re prepared to attach increases in Social Security benefits that would actually decrease benefits, especially for those in their 80s. That’s not some small token. That’s a real concession. So much so that liberals are going to be up in arms about it. That chained CPI bit probably wouldn’t make it through Nancy’s Pelosi’s caucus, but other entitlement cuts will.
A trillion in taxes, one dollar in taxes, it doesn’t matter; Republicans will not permit a tax increase of any kind. I’m bored of writing this sentence, so you must be even more bored of reading it, but it has to be said, because so many others are out there peddling the falsehood that both sides are equally to blame for the impasse:
No—the impasse exists because of Republicans and taxes. Period. If the GOP moved on taxes, the Democrats would give ground on entitlements, as they have now signaled yet again. And the Democrats should not and cannot accept a deal in which there are no tax increases, because they have two-thirds of the country with them and because it’s the right thing.
Put it all together and the odds of an agreement seem long indeed. Could a fair deal be struck? Maybe. But the conditions have to be just right, and no one really knows what those conditions are yet.
OK, then let’s assume no deal. Here’s what will happen after everyone has acknowledged the collapse. The Republicans will, as John McCain and others have already suggested, turn up the heat on the question of defense cuts. They will introduce legislation to exempt the Pentagon from cuts. Now remember, these cuts to the Pentagon, 15 %, were agreed to by both parties in the August debt-ceiling deal. But Republicans, being the clever liars that they are, will decide that the course of history has changed, and that deal will mean no more to them than one of those secret treaties Lenin routinely abrogated back in the day.
So they’ll advance a bill saying: cuts to domestic social programs, sure; cuts to Pentagon, ummm, no way. It will pass the House. It will go to the Senate, and all the Republicans will be for it, and they’ll need 13 Democrats. So then the questions will be: will the Democrats be willing to hold the line and risk the absurd, but historically effective accusation of being “soft on defense”? And will the White House also hold the line—bucking, of course, its own defense secretary, who agrees with the Republican position? I think we know the answer.
So the Republicans will have killed another deal with their indefensible and immoral position on taxes, and then, having stuffed that carcass in the trunk, they will retroactively work to kill the deal they agreed to last summer, and spend December demagoguing about how Democrats are going to leave America defenseless and throw hundreds of thousands of poor aeronautical engineers into the streets.
Anybody care to bet? I’ve put my prediction in writing.