Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Welcome Failure

The Supercommittee failed to do its job: it was unable to reach an agreement on trimming the budget deficit within the time allotted. What a freaking shame.

I am not at all unhappy by the results. First of all, this extra-constitutional construct was a questionable idea to begin with. If Congress as a whole couldn't come up with a deal, what made it think the panel of twelve members of Congress, meeting in secret, was going to be able to do so? Even with the penalty of automatic cuts should the committee fail to reach an agreement, there were no guarantees because the Republicans wanted no such agreement. That much was clear right from the start.

Truth Out focused on the Republican intransigence and buttressed its analysis with a telling time line on negotiations between the parties, both in Congress and with the White House:

The notion that both sides share in the blame is an easy line for commentators to repeat, but it isn’t true. Time and time again, the only thing preventing an agreement on long-term deficit reduction has been the Republicans’ absolute refusal to consider any tax increases on high-income households as part of the solution. Michael Linden and I created a timeline of major events in the past six months of deficit talks... [Emphasis added]

What follows this paragraph is the time line which stretches back to February and is very revealing. I'm not going to paste it all here. Click on the link and read it, however, because it is so very clear about what was going on. Every time the Democrats went to the Republicans with a plan which included tax increases of any kind, they were rebuffed. What is so startling is that the Democrats kept coming back with "sweeteners" to the deal, including putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, and each time they were rebuffed again. That's not negotiation, that's extortion. The Democrats never did get it. Fortunately time ran out before the Democrats could give the entire government away as part of the deal.

So now what?

Well, the Republicans in Congress are now scrambling to undo the deal setting up the Supercommittee. The automatic cuts, mostly to the Pentagon, triggered by the failure are looming and it's an election year. Rather than admit that the failure was due to their intransigence, Republicans want a mulligan, one that the White House is unwilling to provide.

Several Republican lawmakers immediately jumped to the next step in the process, vowing to block the steep cuts in defense spending triggered by the failure.

"As every military and civilian defense official has stated, these cuts represent a threat to the national security interests of the United States and cannot be allowed to occur," said Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement.

Obama warned members of Congress that he won’t let them put off the automatic cuts without agreeing on a debt- and deficit-reduction plan.

"My message to them is simple," Obama said. "No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts.... There will be no easy off-ramps on this one."
[Emphasis added]

That's a somewhat welcome display of spine, but it's rather late in the game and it keeps everything on the table, including cuts to social and domestic programs that benefit the 99%. A little more leadership and a little less posturing would have been more welcome, even in an election year.

I guess that means it's up to us. Copy and paste that time line mentioned above into an email or fax to your congress critter, or read it to them over the phone. Deluge those offices with your anger and disgust especially if the target is facing re-election. Drop by their local offices if you can for a friendly little chat and take all of your family and friends with you. Apply a little pressure the way the lobbyists have been doing all along. Occupy their time with your firm presence.

It's time.

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Blogger Florence said...

I am of mixed emotions about Obama's plan to veto any changes to the automatic cuts. While I am cheering the cuts to the Ministry of Perpetual War, the cuts to human services are not to my liking. (Yes, it was nice to see a bit of spine in Obama.)

8:36 AM  

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