Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post wrote this opinion on the Deficit Committee. I believe he is spot on–there are dozen’s of articles of faith that will need to be violated to reach balanced budgets–everyone in Washington knows this. Neither party has formulated a set of ideas that achieve this end. The Republicans actually campaigned on the concept of reversing the Medicare savings cuts from last years health care bill-after complaining that they were insufficient. These are the same people who passed the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill–and failed to fund it, as well as the wars that were never funded.
The Democrats on the other hand refuse to acknowledge, a broad series of cuts will be necessary in the minor entitlement programs, government pensions, and all the other programs of their idealogy. Both will refuse to acknowledge the need to reduce the home mortgage deduction (and hence increase savings and transition our economy away from capital investment in homes instead of factories).
Finding the first Senator or Congressman who will articulate the need to reduce the costs of Social Security or Medicare or a reduction in our military budget? Well, don’t hold your breath. Senator Conrad, who is a friend, and Senator Gregg both have come out in favor of extending all the Bush tax cuts, which represent an increase of $4 trillion in the deficit over the next decade. As a point of comparison, the largest cut in the deficit commission report was a $100 billion annual reduction in the defense budget—roughly 25% of the amount of the tax cuts, and a very difficult feat in American culture.
Of all the things that have been said in the wake of the release of the Deficit Commission’s “Chairman‘s Mark,” there is probably none more dishonest than what Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said on “Good Morning America” yesterday:
“If some of us have to sacrifice a political career to get this country back on track, then so be it.”
Conrad has been twitchy over the deficits going on two years now. During that time, he could have taken it upon himself to champion any of the spending cuts or tax increases or reforms that have landed in the Chairman’s Mark. He could worked the halls of Congress for co-sponsors for the Kent Conrad Pu-Pu Platter Of Deficit Whimsy Act of 2010. We could have already had debates, already taken votes. But neither he or anyone else wanted to put their political career on the line, and so Conrad poured his heart into establishing, and now supporting, a deficit commission.
And each version of this commission I’ve seen promoted has been designed simply as an avenue for buck-passing. When Conrad and Judd Gregg imagined this as a creation of Congress, it came with steep supermajority requirements — fourteen out of eighteen of its members had to agree to anything to send an idea before Congress, where the now-accepted-as-the-new-normal Senate supermajority requirement loomed to capsize any idea that managed an escape from the committee table. Even still, that was too close for comfort for Gregg and Conrad’s GOP co-sponsors, who bailed on the measure when the time came to stand up for it.
We laugh at the French protests to alter their respective retirement ages from 60 to 62 and from 65 to 67, and yet, it’s done. We comment on the British student protests on tuition hikes, and yet it’s done. It is our government system that cannot accomplish things. Divided power is proving far less nimble than consolidated power. German, France, England and yes, even Greece are taking actions far more resolute than anything in the U.S.
- Deficit Commission: The Most Dishonest Thing Ever Said About It (huffingtonpost.com)
- There is no report from the fiscal commission (voices.washingtonpost.com)
- Kent Conrad invokes Veterans’ Day to defend Deficit Commission (dailykos.com)
- Senate budget chairman urges action on deficit (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The deficit commission reports | Michael Tomasky (guardian.co.uk)