Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Committees

Reading the various opinion pieces on why the Super Committee failed can cause a serious case of the dizzies. Here is a couple being hyped by RealClearPolitics on its Tuesday home page:

First, there's Eugene Robinson's piece which--predictably--blames the Republicans for the failure, wholly and completely. A sample:
That is basically where the subcommittee talks stood -- Democrats ready to give and take, Republicans willing only to take -- until the eleventh hour, when Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., presented to his supercolleagues a proposal for tax reform that some commentators hailed as a breakthrough. It was, in fact, nothing of the sort. 
Toomey's plan would actually cut tax rates, including for the wealthy, with a promise to raise them again if that's what is needed to boost tax revenue by $250 billion over the next decade. 
Mr. Robinson assumes, of course, that all of the projected spending in the future is both necessary and good. Thus, if Democrats agree to a reduction in projected increases--read that carefully--they are negotiating in good faith. And that's the problem with this Super Committee nonsense: no real spending cuts are actually being discussed, there's no meat to be found, anywhere. The Republicans had largely surrendered this argument and thus are trapped in the paradigm wherein having a slower rate of growth than what was planned is a actually a cut. Almost all media sources are equally ignorant in this regard, having allowed the doublespeak of Washington to become standard fare. And the typical citizen--not being fluent in doublespeak--is often duped into believing such nonsense.

Next, we have Jeb Hensarling's piece at the WSJ. In contrast to Mr. Robinson, he places all of the blame squarely on Democrat shoulders. Of course, since he was a Republican member of the Committee, that's hardly surprising. A sample from his piece:
Republicans were willing to agree to additional tax revenue, but only in the context of fundamental pro-growth tax reform that would broaden the base, lower rates, and maintain current levels of progressivity. This is the approach to tax reform used by recent bipartisan deficit reduction efforts such as the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission and the Rivlin-Domenici plan. 
The Democrats said no. They were unwilling to agree to anything less than $1 trillion in tax hikes—and unwilling to offer any structural reforms to put our health-care entitlements on a permanently sustainable basis. 
Unfortunately, the committee's challenge was made more difficult by President Obama. Since the committee was formed, he has demanded more stimulus spending and issued a veto threat against any proposed committee solution to the spending problem that was not coupled with a massive tax increase.
Hensarling obviously sees this all from a very different perspective than Mr. Robinson. He sees the Republicans more than prepared to increase revenues, but not to the degree that the Democrats were pushing for. The Bush tax cuts--extended by Obama--are the crux of the issue. For the Republicans, keeping this cuts as they are is vital, though they are willing to eliminate various deductions and the like which would--theoretically--lead to more revenue. For the Democrats, not letting these tax cuts expire means automatically lowering future revenues by an identifiable amount.

Thus, the taxation lie that I have addressed previously rears its ugly head once more.

Beyond that, Hensarling has a valid point, with regard to the President. Obama has no desire to be constrained by supposed cuts; he want to spend more and more and more. And he has plenty of support for that goal in Congress. That's the real tragedy, here. Ultimately, this is all a charade, nothing but bread and circuses for the masses and a convenient propaganda tool for the coming elections.

As a nation, we should--at some point--have the courage to stand up and say "Enough! No more games!" But I fear we won't, especially since pundits like Mr. Robinson continue to dominate the media, pundits who parrot Washington talking points and doublespeak, either because they don't understand what's really going on or because they're just too lazy to bother with figuring it out.

Cheers, all.

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