Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Republicans Have Already Won

While they tend to do a piss poor job at governing, Republicans are expert at messaging, and in the fight over our national budget and debt, they have attempted to portray the President as a classic ‘tax and spend’ liberal against whom they are fighting the good fight for fiscal restraint and prudence. The only problem? Reckless economic policy was the calling card of the last President. The guy in the White House right now is what would have once passed for a Republican’s wet dream. On the two domestic issues Republicans claim to care about most – taxes and government spending, consider this:

·        The President signed a bill that permanently extended 99% of the tax cuts first passed by George W. Bush;
·        So-called “discretionary” domestic spending is at a near 60-year low [1] and across-the-board sequestration cuts have been levied on almost every cabinet and administrative agency within the federal government;
·        The President has cut a budget deficit that peaked at more than $1.41 trillion at the end of fiscal 2009 [2] (when the full impact of the Great Recession hit) to $642 billion, a reduction of more than half in just four years, an amount unprecedented in such a short period of time in our nation’s history. [3]

Oh, and he also passed a health care law that will hand insurance companies millions of new customers, generate billions in revenue for pharmaceutical companies, has extended the life span of Medicare, "bent" the health care cost curve down and was hatched in the rock-ribbed conservative hallways of the Heritage Foundation. In other words, Obama has governed in a way Republicans always claim they will when they take the White House but never do - prudently, with fiscal restraint and an eye toward squeezing efficiencies out of both the private and public sectors of our economy. 

For the purposes of the budget and debt negotiations, the first two bullet points are particularly important to keep in mind. By starving the treasury of trillions in tax revenue, the President not only tied his own hands, but the hands of any future President interested in broad-based domestic policy simply because collecting more revenue in the future will require actual tax increases, not the deus ex machina of a “sunset” provision to negotiate against. With regard to domestic spending levels, the Democrats have agreed to a figure for Fiscal Year 2014 of $988 billion, only $19 billion more than what Paul Ryan's House Budget of $967 billion calls for. If you're scoring at home, that's a difference of less than 2%, practically a rounding error in a budget of nearly a trillion dollars. [4] 

So the idea that Democrats now need to compromise more after the President was re-elected overwhelmingly, Senate Democrats gained seats and House Democrats collected 1 million plus more votes than House Republicans is laughable. Would it kill the media to start doing its job and reporting information like this? And for your tea party types, please, stop going on about how Obama is the bastard child of FDR and LBJ who will march granny off to a death panel, if only she survives living in a FEMA trailer while her grandchildren are indoctrinated in socialist thinking.





4. It is also important to note that the $988 billion figure is itself a compromise. The original Senate budget called for $1.085 trillion in domestic spending and the 2011 debt limit compromise used a funding level of $1.066. Ibid.

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