The bipartisan deficit busting Super Committee hasn’t formally thrown in the towel, but things are not looking good. It turns out that the Super Committee’s kryptonite was the irresistible political momentum of Big Government. To put it simply, the Democrats understood all along that getting nothing done was their best option.
There is much talk of the terrible automatic cuts that will hit both defense and domestic spending if no deal is reached by the committee. Those cuts can be overturned through legislation. The unwise military cuts would get rolled back immediately, especially since Iran is on the brink of rolling out those nuclear weapons the smart set kept assuring us they wouldn’t have for another couple of decades. If Democrats didn’t get their domestic spending cuts rescinded too, it would give them a fabulous issue to run on in 2012. Nothing would make the grumpy sectors of the far-left anti-war base forgive Obama’s military adventures faster than watching the automatic military cuts get erased, while domestic spending cuts remained on the books.
What the Democrats always understood, and Republicans either didn’t know or pretended not to know, is that Congress can only bind itself through obligation. Spending cuts and tax relief are written in sand, while billion-dollar spending programs are carved in stone. It’s a point Ron Paul has been making in his presidential debate appearances: spending is a tax, because it creates massive obligations that future voters will be told they have no choice but to cover. Gather any given Democrat’s quotes about the deficit over a span of ten years, and watch how quickly they switch from deficit hawks when it’s time to demand tax increases to cover spending obligations… to “what, me worry?” carefree souls who think the deficit is an urban legend when spending cuts are on the table.
The differences in understanding of how the Big Government game is played were painfully obvious when Republicans caved on tax increases, and Democrats breezily declared they still wanted more new taxes. The Super Committee Republicans underestimated how much their cave would anger their base, which was supposed to remain quiescent because it would come in the form of means-tested deduction limits instead of rate increases. For some reason, they didn’t think the base was thoroughly fed up with class warfare, and could swallow a little more, in exchange for some “real spending cuts” that would shave about seven percent of the annual deficit off.
The Democrats had no reason to take that deal. They want taxes, taxes, taxes, and they’re not about to concede that Obama’s $3.6 trillion government has an ounce of fat on it. They couldn’t care less about reducing the deficit or national debt, and they’re still rather annoyed that they have to pretend to care about it for a while longer. They’re not about to trade the “obstructionist Republican” narrative Obama has worked so hard to develop for a paltry $300 billion in deflated tax deductions.
Take it from Senator John Kerry (D-MA), as quoted by Fox News:
Two days after Republicans on the so-called super committee, led by Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, offered a $1.5 trillion package that included, for the first time, new tax revenue to the tune of about $300 billion, Democrats are rejecting the offer.
“We have a big gap with respect to where we are on revenue,” panel Democrat John Kerry told a handful of reporters Wednesday morning. “The Toomey approach will not work. We’ve told them that very directly. We have to find a different way to come at it.”
The senior Massachusetts senator met behind closed doors in his third floor Capitol office Tuesday night with a key bipartisan core group from the committee, including Toomey, Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Dave Camp, R-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
“This is not complicated. They’ve got to put real revenue on the table that helps us get the job done,” Kerry said, adding that he is “still hopeful” a deal can be reached by November 23.
See? There’s nothing wrong with Big Government that can’t be fixed if we just siphon some more wealth from the private sector to the government. We should be able to get along nicely on zero GDP growth, as long as the Democrats have money to pick market winners and losers, right?
Do nothing, and the government will grow. Republicans who placed serious faith in the Super Committee somehow forgot that simple truth, or refused to face it. Playing for time by kicking deficit reduction down the field with silly committee gimmicks only serves the interests of those who embrace the momentum of Big Government.