House Speaker John Boehner had to drag his debt ceiling proposal back into the garage for some fine-tuning today, because the Congressional Budget Office scored its deficit reduction at only $851 billion over 10 years, when he had promised over a trillion.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel explained, “We promised that we will cut spending more than we increase the debt limit, with no tax hikes, and we will keep that promise. As we speak, congressional staff are looking at options to rewrite the legislation to meet our pledge.”
There are many criticisms to be made of the Boehner proposal, but giving him a hard time over these rewrites is silly. His people are obviously making a sincere and heartfelt attempt to come up with a solid deficit reduction plan that’s too small to make a difference.
At least the Boehner plan isn’t stuffed with the kind of accounting fraud that only a New York Times editor would fall for. They view the Reid plan as offering a choice between “bad and worse” because it’s not filled with the gigantic, job-killing tax increases that childish liberals demand as a sacrifice to their ideology, but they like it because it would “extend the debt limit through 2012, avoiding a replay of brinkmanship next year.” In other words, it would help get Obama re-elected, by keeping the embarrassing spectacle of his “deficit hawk” performance off the air during the 2012 campaign.
“If this debate were really about fixing the deficit,” intones the Times, “Congress would start over.” No, sirs. If this debate were really about fixing the deficit, they would finish passing and implementing the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act – the only plan proposed by anyone that would actually “fix the deficit.”
Try wrapping your brain around what the New York Times wants instead:
What the country needs to get its fiscal house in order, without stalling the fragile recovery, is increased relief-and-recovery spending in the near term, coupled with a credible plan for deficit reduction — including spending cuts and tax increases in equal measure — to be implemented as the economy recovers.
Brilliant! What we really need to address our looming debt crisis is more wasteful and fraudulent “stimulus” spending, enough tax hikes to make the economy contract, and then maybe a commission to propose a credible plan. Everything the Times editors believe about economics is a demonstrable, proven failure, but let’s just try it again one more time.
Boehner’s proposal is more substantial than Reid’s cloud of vapor, but still much too small to make a real difference… and yet, it’s described as “the best we can do.” The Tea Party can take cold comfort from watching a political battle that vindicates every criticism they have ever made of Washington. Important representatives, and the President, simply ignore everything financial analysts are saying about the debt crisis, and pretend that what Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s really wants is a firm guarantee that the national debt will get much larger, as quickly as possible. Serious discussions about fiscal sanity are portrayed as a source of “instability” that will get us in more trouble than throwing around trillions of dollars in funny money.
The most widely misunderstood aspect of the Tea Party critique is the belief that it was personal – a conviction that if we rid Washington of this RINO squish or that ancient spendaholic, American decline would be halted. It was always more serious than that. The Tea Party rose up against a corrupt and degenerate system, not specific politicians they had run out of patience with. Every aspect of that system is designed to make it grow until it dies.
The Boehner plan is the ultimate distillation of what the Tea Party opposes. It’s the “best” the less irresponsible half of the two-party system can do, at a moment of supreme crisis when the entire country is finally paying attention to madcap government spending… and it would only knock about 30% off the deficit. The national debt would soar past $22 trillion by 2020. Boehner’s great triumph would be preventing the Left from using a debt crisis it created as leverage to squeeze more taxes out of Americans.
The Wall Street Journal has become very cross with those who won’t get behind the Boehner plan, charging them with “the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.” Instead, we should accept the “reality” that “the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform, and what political fallout.”
Since the answer to “how much fiscal reform” is clearly “not enough to make a damn bit of difference,” the only thing worth discussing is the political fallout. Some say the Boehner proposal should be seen as a stopgap measure to get us to 2013, when a Republican President and Senate can pass a more serious plan. Under that line of thinking, wouldn’t it be better to let Reid’s plan pass, so the Democrats completely own the ensuing fiscal crisis?
The big credit agencies will most likely follow the lead set by smaller companies, and downgrade America’s credit rating, if we go with either the Reid or Boehner proposals, because neither of them does nearly enough to harness out-of-control federal spending. Why not put Harry Reid’s name on that, if we’re not going to push a truly serious alternative? When the cloud of blue smoke from the Reid plan disperses, and the deficit is “surprisingly” and “unexpectedly” much higher than the CBO said it would be, the Republicans can run against a broken future Democrats built all by themselves.
Of course, the only reason Reid’s proposal is so similar to Boehner’s is that Republicans stuck to their principles and dragged the entire conversation toward the center, so that President Obama became the crazy radical sitting by himself in a corner, babbling about corporate jets. With a little more conviction, maybe they could do what Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) suggests, and find four more votes to get the Cut, Cap & Balance Act through the Senate. Obama would probably veto it… and then we could see what “political fallout” really looks like.
DeMint criticized Boehner for working towards “a better political debt deal, instead of a debt solution.” That’s what the Tea Party feared would happen all along. They didn’t vote for all those Republicans in 2010 to watch the political class have a slightly more spirited argument with itself, and still end up spending twice as much as George Bush did. They don’t want Washington borrowing $1.5 trillion a year so it can exert $4 trillion worth of control over their lives. The only people who don’t know how this story ends are the ones writing it.