News sources are reporting a ‘deal’ between debt-default negotiators that, if passed, reads to me like a massive capitulation by the Democratic Party to the Tea Party ransom demand.
That Americans want something to happen is clear from the volume of phone calls to Congress. (I tried to call Sen. John Kerry’s office this morning but his voicemail in Boston and Washington were full.) But from my perspective, “something” should not be “anything.”
Here is the deal, as summarized by politicalwire.com from at least two news sources:
— Immediate budget cuts of about $1 trillion in exchange for raising the debt ceiling
enough for the government to function for another five or six months.
— Targeted additional cuts of roughly $1.8 trillion to be arrived at by a bipartisan
special committee which must make recommendations by Thanksgiving.
— Authorization to cut, presumably proportionately, across the board, including
Medicare, in January should the Congress fail to endorse these recommendations.
— Agreement to allow both Houses of Congress to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment
(such amendments are so rare that the last one ratified and added to the
Constitution as the 27th Amendment was in 1992. It set limits on Congressional pay
raises and dated back to an idea of one of the Founding Fathers.)
So what’s so bad about this arrangement? From my perspective a whole lot.
1. It raises no additional revenue — something polls show a majority of Americans support.
(For now at least, millionaires will keep their Bush tax cuts, their inheritance
protection, their corporate jet loopholes and so forth. Programs will be cut, no
question. But no one will be asked to sacrifice to keep the social safety net from
getting seriously frayed.)
2. It assures another donnybrook a few months ahead and more months of paralyzed
3. It endorses the decision to simply make large across-the-board cuts a few months down
the road because no one can agree on the right thing to do.
4. It essentially allows our elected officials the right to NOT govern, to do little more
than run for re-election.
Is it better for the government to default on its debts? To me, it’s starting to look like an awfully close call.