David Harsanyi: No one is serious about the debt
The "fiscal cliff" deal House Republicans and President Barack Obama are debating can be called many things - the "avoiding a political nightmare" deal or a "Yes, Mr. Obama, may I have another" deal - but please let's stop referring to it as a "deficit reduction" deal. We've yet to see a serious proposal on debt.
Actually, by proposing a tax increase for spending with no real corresponding cuts, the President has been arguing for growing deficits. And with a priority on "fairness" over prosperity, any chance of easing the $16 trillion national debt through an economic boom in the near future is improbable.
When you cut through the coverage, in fact, you'll also find that the second most pressing item on the President's agenda - after tax hikes on the wealthy and small businesses - is winning the unlimited authority to raise the country's debt limit. Obama - who personally sat down with CEOs at the Business Roundtable to press his case - argues that having a cap on debt, rather than unlimited debt, is a "bad strategy" for the nation.
After that, much of the deceptive "savings" or "cuts" offered by Obama were already coming from the winding down of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan - this itself supposedly temporary spending that is now baked into the baseline. You will remember that for Democrats, including the President, funding these wars by borrowing was unconscionable. Turns out, only the wars were the problem, not the trillions.
Similarly, Americans may also remember our "one time only" stimulus bill. That dramatic bump in spending is also now a forever spending baseline. The imagined "savings" from that kind of accounting is very much like the "savings" a person might realize after someone steals their car but is nice enough to throw them a couple of dollars for bus fare home. Thank you, Mr. President!
But all of Obama's pro-debt expansion policies don't excuse Republicans for calling their own proposal a "credible" $2.2 trillion plan on "deficit reduction." Even if we were to concede for a moment that the plan would cut the debt, by the time we realized $2.2 trillion in savings, the Congressional Budget Office projects that debt as a share of GDP will have reached 100 percent. By 2035, we're looking at 200 percent.
Or put it this way: The entire Republican plan would only pay down the $220 billion in net interest the United States owes on its debt every year. Well, if by some miracle that interest stayed at $220 billion. Which it won't.
The Republicans' offer also contains $800 billion in new "revenue" garnered from tax reform - partially from closing loopholes on the wealthy - which surrenders to the notion that "revenue" rather than "spending" drives the deficit.
The Republicans' offer has $300 billion in cuts to discretionary spending over 10 years. Well, the U.S. government's outlays in October alone were $304 billion.
The GOP offered $600 billion in 10-year health care cuts through Medicare and Medicaid, which is less than Obama was willing to risk as seed money for Obamacare. Then again, the President's new budget only reduces Medicare and Medicaid spending by $340 billion over a decade. Democrats have no interest in reform.
Our potential unfunded liabilities, what our government has promised to spend on entitlement programs in the future and won't have money to pay, are estimated to total anywhere from $87 trillion to $100 trillion. That doesn't even include Obamacare's unseen costs.
Fiscal cliff? We've already taken that dive.
David Harsanyi is a columnist and senior reporter at Human Events. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.
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Paul Sylvia said:
Like one of my co-workers told me in October about November 6th, "It doesn't matter who wins--we lose..."
December 11, 2012 1:38 am
We are faced with a disastrous change to tax law that will take effect next month if nothing happens. The Republicans have cooperated in letting this tax cliff into a "fiscal cliff"--Sen. Ayotte out in front, suddenly arguing that defense-spending loot is the engine of the economy, when the "sequester" cuts are her party's only permanent achievement in two years. Mr. Obama insists on raising the rate for the top two tax brackets (high achievers and owners of small businesses, not necessarily "millionaires and billionaires"). His goal is not efficacy or national recovery or least of all debt-reduction, but solely to wash the last scent of George W. Bush out of Washington. The numbers of billions of dollars bandied about are unknowable, but most rest on the assumption that raising a rate by x% results in x% more money flowing to Washington. We can be sure that raising the taxation of dividends paid to high earners from 15% to over 40% will not double the revenue from that source. Those earners will shift their money, pay for legal tax shelters, and continue to move business overseas. Surrender to Mr. Obama's proposals will not achieve the fiscal goal and, in appeasing past overspending, will lay the groundwork for more of the same.
December 11, 2012 8:43 am
George LeMont said:
Any American who believes we are not all the target of government taxation and spending and expansion must have just graduated from college, and has not yet lived in the real world Americans now face. If you think the democrat party is not feeding off you the same way they claim to only want to feed off the rich, just look at how much your paying for everything these days in only four short years. Then we have the republicans who claim to stand for smaller government and lower taxes but never honestly deliver when elected to office. May the two headed snake known as government live long and prosper as it looks you all in the eye and lies right to your face. After a while of listening to these two parties I can't help but feel they work together to reach a common goal, while dividing half the population into two camps to make it easier. If you want to know where we are going go listen to the comments by Obamas job czar claiming communism works. I just saw it on the news and apparently no one taught him about the hundreds of millions of people who were killed by their own communist governments in the last hundred years.
December 11, 2012 9:26 am
George LeMont: The Soviet Union did not set out to murder those millions of citizens; only to take muscular charge of the nation's agricultural output. The similarities to Obama-care are obvious, not necessarily in the means (though we don't know what Obama-care will lead to), but certainly in the determination to elevate central management-by-the-numbers above the preferences that free people would express in the marketplace.
December 11, 2012 11:17 am
Paul Fleming said:
You can't make this stuff up. In the USAToday, today and may I quote: ******* House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke right after Boehner, saying Obama and congressional Democrats have already agreed to $1.6 trillion in spending cuts. She called on Boehner to let the House vote on a bill, already passed by the Senate, that would extend tax cuts on the middle class. ******* Sounds an awful lot like her last famous quote just pass the Bill then we will see what is in it!!! Boehner requested obama to list the specifc cuts and she spews this!
December 11, 2012 12:57 pm
John Mercier said:
Pretty straight forward argument: Do we lower the taxation on the first $250K of a household for everyone? Or simply keep the taxation rates of the 90s? Its doubtful that we're going to get anymore curbs in spending other than the sequester... and the debt ceiling can be done away with by the executive branch through a simple constitutional arguement. Paul Fleming... List the specific cuts? Republicans ran their last elections claiming Obama cut Medicare. Is your memory really that short?
December 11, 2012 4:09 pm
Paul Fleming said:
Mr. Mercier, answer the question did obama or did not obama cut medicare @800 Billion dollars for obamcare, YES or NO? My memory sir is not short but I do post facts initially, then counter the usual morons in kind.
December 11, 2012 6:42 pm
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