Grover Norquist and the tea party have been busy of late, celebrating from the Super Committee failure to produce deficit compromises. Last August, the Republicans chalked up another win for their twisted devotion to governing for the nation’s upper class; or so they thought. When small minds work at devious plans, often the small minds fail.
A much more detailed and analytical mind has delved into the backlash from the August negotiations and the GOP inspired trigger (to go into effect in November if the Super Committee fails in its mission). Ezra Klein of WONKBLOG, analyzed all factors associated with the current deficit and budget issues. The results show the shallowness of the GOP regarding their efforts to protect their wealthy constituents. As I read Klein’s work, I could see Boehner, McConnell and Cantor licking their chops at another opportunity to stick-it to the president and the democrats. Well, we know the Super Committee folded up shop last week, released the sorriest worded statement I have read in years, and are ready to go back to the business of a lowly rated Congress. President Obama spoke about the fact that the GOP was already working on usurping the triggers they placed into the manipulative deficit reduction process.
Obama emphatically stated the word: “VETO”. All the while Klein’s very detailed mind was at work looking strategically at the environment. Watch the effectiveness of Klein’s detailed analysis.
The WONKBLOG: The GOP’s dual trigger nightmare
In August, Republicans scored what they thought was a big win by persuading Democrats to accept a trigger that consisted only of spending cuts. The price they paid was 1) concentrating the cuts on the Pentagon while exempting Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries, and 2) delaying the cuts until January 1, 2013. That was, they figured, a win, as it eschewed taxes. Grover Norquist’s pledge remained unbroken.
But 12 years earlier, George W. Bush had set a trigger of his own. In order to pass his tax cuts using the 51-vote budget reconciliation process, he had agreed to let them sunset in 2010. A last-minute deal extended them until the end of 2012.
So now there are two triggers. One is an extremely progressive spending trigger worth $1.2 trillion that goes off on January 1, 2013. The other is an extremely progressive tax trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off on…January 1, 2013. If you count reduced interest payments, the two policies alone would reduce future deficits by about $6 trillion. That’s far more than anything the super committee came close to discussing. It’s distributed far more progressively than anything the Democrats have even considered proposing. And all that needs to happen for it to pass is, well, nothing.
Republicans can’t stop these triggers on their own. They need Senate Democrats and President Obama to join them in passing an alternative, or they need House and Senate Democrats to join them in overturning President Obama’s veto of their alternative.
Klein points out that all is not lost for the GOP. If the economic hits come about without decade long phasing-in, they could damage a fragile economy. So, the GOP ruination of the economy lingers even when that party is down and economically grabbing for straws.
Klein via the WONKBLOG on yesterday…GOP Dual Trigger in one Graph
On Wednesday, I posted a column (linked above) about the GOP’s dual-trigger nightmare: the prospect that deficit reduction would now take place through a combination of the supercommittee’s $1.2 trillion spending trigger and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. That would cut the deficit by $5 trillion — actually, $6 trillion, once you include cut interest payments — but in a vastly more progressive fashion than either party has even considered proposing. To get a sense of how progressive, here’s a graph comparing the spending cuts and tax increases in all the major deficit-reduction packages proposed thus far. (Note: I’m measuring revenues against the tax code as it is now, and I’m not including savings on interest payments.)
It would be quite a turn of events if the GOP started by proposing the Ryan plan and ended with the dual-trigger plan.
Klein is a realist and as he says has, he ‘ran the numbers.’ He suggests both the GOP and the White House can run the numbers. Both sides have vested interest and in either case few will win in the short run.
Motivation for both sides is as real as their 180 degrees differences in economic policy. The Dems cannot overlook that current funding of entitlement programs will not sustain those programs as they are now structured. The GOP has that ever-present and childlike NO RAISE TAXES pledge from Norquist (A de facto leader of their party).
Neither you nor I are anxious for the prospect of all of the Bush Tax cuts expiring. I posit that both parties will partner in keeping the Bush Tax cuts, the relevant question in my mind is, will the cuts remain in effect for people in high income brackets? Klein finished his work with contemplation of how the White House will deal with the obstructionist GOP. You can read his remarks via the links above.
My concern, in light of Klein’s expert analysis, is which of the two ‘camps’ will throw a curve into he mix. If the GOP is allowed to work their underhanded magic to shield defense cuts, all the meat comes out of any strategically advantageous position for the Administration. Hence, the president’s threats of “veto.” On the other hand, how deeply will the Administration allow the GOP to dig into preserving entitlement programs that benefit you and me, as we grow older? The Obama Administration may have a temporary upper hand based on Bush’s Trigger, but will it last? What factors will work into the consideration that compassionate Dems will use to ‘cave’? Maybe not a great example but follow me for a moment.
While off to the side a bit, I noticed a report at the end of the week that generals in Afghanistan are going to propose more troops in county. WHAT? I hope the administration does not agree to such a request, especially during an election year. First, it is not the right decision to (the president should be de-escalating). Second, what is the assessment for such a need?
Generals are not people who relishing managing standing armies when there is prospect of combat (my opinion). I dread the thought, but how do we know the request is not a form of political entrapment? Do you remember the flack Obama took for his first escalation in Afghanistan? He caught hell for the insertion of more troops and he caught hell for increasing the deficit because of the cost of the escalation. He caught double hell even while giving the GOP exactly what they wanted–more troops in Afghanistan.
These are the sorts of variables that do not, as outcomes, factor into Klein’s skillful and hopeful analysis . Despite the dual-trigger, all progressives (especially those in the administration) had better proceed with much caution.