GOP sings same ole tune
May 17, 2011
Now that the Bin Laden takedown is already fading to Page 2 and birthers have lost credibility, the economy is a cause celebre once again as the GOP sits down with Vice President Joe Biden to make the effort to hammer out a compromise.
Did John Boehner, speaker of the house, commit a bonehead move when he kicked off GOP strategy at an economics forum May 10? He raised the ante for conditions to agree to increase the debt limit while ignoring other serious plans. Hopefully this is only a position strengthening exercise prior to negotiations. Surely Republicans are not so irresponsible they would risk crashing the economy if they failed to get their way 100 percent.
The Boehner address reminded me of that old camp sing song: “same song, second verse; could get better but it’s gonna get worse.”
He renewed the idea of holding the debt ceiling hostage on terms that were more of the same as yore, adding zeros to some figures and including some twists that others had long ago dissed .
The prior GOP hostage deal was that they would lift the debt ceiling only if the president would present a “serious debt reduction plan.”
The president proposed one, but the Republicans said it was only a speech that had not been put into an introduced budget bill and, in any case, included tax increases . They further upped the ante by adding cuts to current budget discussions to the hostage list.
Republicans probably hoped you would not remember that the Obama proposal would reduce the deficit by nearly the same as the plan House Republicans just approved without destroying Medicare as we know it.
The key provision of the Obama plan, a trigger to force Congress to approve a plan to reduce the deficit if no progress was made by 2014, was simply blown off by Boehner because it did not rule out tax hikes, it kicked the can down the road, and he wanted to be specific about cuts now.
Boehner raised the hostage terms from cutting billions to cutting trillions in the long term, demanding more cuts than the amount the debt ceiling is raised.
Read Boehner’s lips: “No new taxes.” Only cuts are acceptable. This is in spite of Obama’s plan proposing $3 in cuts for every one dollar in tax hikes. The Simpson-Bowles debt commission and the gang of six in the Senate, including some heavy weight Republicans, came to the conclusion we could not reduce the deficit significantly without some tax increases
Boehner kept the Ryan plan on the table – the unpopular proposal House GOP members are all on the record as approving – which would substitute guaranteed Medicare benefits with vouchers that contain no guarantees they would keep up with escalating costs. The GOP still plots to kill “Obamacare,” thus eliminating health care cost containment provisions of the law, removing the $400 billion it saves to the Medicare system, and restoring the donut hole in drug benefits charged to seniors.
However, Boehner toned down support for the Ryan proposal by saying that everything is on the table except tax increases. What he put on the table was a warmed-over dinner: revival of the old GOP proposal to cut Medicare benefits to the wealthy. This is no more than a riff on the old GOP tune.
Bonehead Boehner may have committed his insistence on Republicans being specific about what additional cuts they intend to make to meet their upped ante. Could it be they do not want more poster children of GOP heartlessness for Democrats to exploit?
Another bonehead move is that the hostage Boehner insists on holding to the debt ceiling issue is feeble. Republicans dare not execute it because it would wreck the economy, at least according to most economists. Most Republicans understand the risk and do not care to have it haunt them in 2012.