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Wednesday, November 23. 2011
The 'mood' in the US, if we are to believe the MSM, is that nasty Republicans have undermined the political process with their adherence to outdated dogma. Nevermind that Democrats adhere to outlandish (and outdated) dogma, the discussion will revolve around how to demonize one side or the other. The MSM claim "compromise" is what's important. They also hint the Republicans cause all the problems.
There is a history of compromise in Congress, but there is also a history of sticking to your guns. How you view things usually depends on what you want to believe. Personally, I think sometimes compromise is good, but at other times sticking to your beliefs is better. In the case of the deficit, I'm more dogmatic. There have to be more spending cuts before we can even discuss, let alone implement, more taxes. If we do implement more taxes, I believe having the 'rich' pay more isn't a bad idea, but a better idea is to combine that with a broader income tax base that includes the 49% who don't pay anything.
The nature of the spending cuts are as fair as we could hope for, given the current political environment. Particularly if you believe, as I do, that the Supercommittee idea is an unconstitutional solution. I believe this because cuts are 'automatic' whether the committee agrees to a deal or there is no agreement at all. If they make a deal, Congress agrees to support it. If they fail, the current outcome, nobody votes for anything except to possibly stop the cuts. There is limited representation, there is limited discussion. The cuts just happen. Clearly there is an undemocratic theme here, but at least everything gets cut. Nothing is spared. It may be unconstitutional, but we're being unconstitutional together to achieve a goal. I can't believe that's good, but some think it is.
There is an interesting twist to all this, however. They aren't really automatic spending cuts at all. They are cuts to the increase of spending. If spending was increased 5%, this will reduce that increase to only 1.535%. Without growing revenues, the deficit still rises.
In the end, the Supercommittee only highlighted what's been going on for a long time in DC. Lots of talk, point some fingers, avoid responsibility, kick the can down the road. It was a solution which solved nothing. Typical.
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You buried the lede. (and yes I can spell it that way, I wrote for a newspaper in a previous incarnation)
A solution that solved nothing. Brilliant. It just highlights their focus, "We've got to find a way to save our phony baloney jobs."
Describing their behavior as unconstitutional is a bit of a stretch. The Constitution grants Congress the power to organize and govern itself as the members see fit. If the whole Congress votes to delegate certain decisions to an ad hoc committee with the outcome subject to passage by the Congress, I don't see any legal problem. As noted, it's a breach of the intent of representative government as envisioned by the Founders. And certainly a demonstration of political cowardice.
They've made a mess and now refuse to clean it up. Congress = six year olds on steroids.
LOL. Perhaps I did, which is why I'm not a journalist.
Unconstitutional, however, is dependent upon how you view the situation. The Constitution requires Congress to make decisions. The Supercommittee seeks ot make this irrelevant by automating certain aspects of the process.
Congress can send decisions to ad hoc committees, but then a formal vote must be held afterward. With the Supercommittee, there is a vote, but there is an assured outcome, too. Congress WILL vote for whatever agreement they come to. Or, in the event of no agreement, Congress will only vote to stop automatic cuts. They have, for all intents and purposes, relinquished their decision making to a smaller body, which is unconstitutional.
The discussion of whether it's Constitutional has taken place within legal circles and a lawyer friend of mine (Democrat) believes it is not Constitutional, too. So it's not like I've made up an outlandish idea.
I would dispute that the Supercommittee was a failure.
I think it achieved its primary purpose quite well.
There was a dispute about raising the debt ceiling. There was a chance that enough R's would oppose it (not that they are more principaled, just that they are the ones out of power at the moment) that it could actually slow down the growth of big government. The purpose of the supercommittee was to give R's enough of a fig leaf to cover voting for the the biggest raise in the debt ceiling in history...enough to get through the next election cycle (something of vital importance to the D's...can't have the electorate thinking about how much money the government is spending right before they vote).
So the purpose of the super committee was to remove a potentially potent threat to the growth of big governmnent. The purpose was to kick the can down the road. The purpose to bury our great great grand children even further in debt. The purpose was to avoid financial reality a little bit longer, even if reality will ultimately assert itself at an even steeper price.
The super committee achieved its purpose with flying colors. The debt ceiling was raised. Big government faces no immediate threat to spending whatever the hell they want. And next time the subject comes up...it will be shortly after the next election, when the elected are furthest from the fury of the voters.
Super committee success...glorious success.
For the left, compromise means pushing the country a couple of inches towards socialism instead of 2 or 3 feet at a time. The Tea Party candidates were not elected to slow the U.S.'s move towards governmental social control. They were elected to stop it and then reverse it.
There's a leftist blog I read on occasion written by a radical leftist lesbian Episcopal priest. The name of it is "An Inch At A Time".
The Democrats are trying to get Republicans to go back on their no-new-taxes pledge, so they can use it against the Republican candidate, like they did against Bush the Elder in 1992.
They need a rule against SuperCommittees and groups of 6 or 10 or whatever. It's just a way of abdicating their responsibilities. On the other hand, they've had some dandy commissions that come up with smart ideas — which just get printed up and filed.
That said, the two parties are operating not just on different political views, but on different economics, different worldviews, different history and different aims for the country and different facts. When one of my own senators is a co-chairman—Patty Murray—there's not much hope. She's never had a thought that was not pure party-line. Not the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer. Doomed effort.We need a lot of stubborn standing on principle on our side.
I believe this little super committee stunt has accomplished exactly what both parties really want: spending gets cut enough to show progress, but not enough to actually reduce government or endanger any of the programs they love. And, all while they all get to claim that they aren't personally responsible for it (I.e. didn't directly vote for it). Next up, they'll fail to agree on a tax plan, and the Bush tax cuts will expire.