While congressional R's guffaw over the president's first "fiscal cliff" proposal, John Aravosis suggests: "Cut YOUR OWN benefits"
"The idea that President Obama might actually want to enact his campaign promises – tax hikes on the rich, modest Medicare cuts, investments in infrastructure – is apparently considered a joke to the party that has shown virtually no flexibility in the last four years. . . .
"[O]nce the laughter dies down, they will have to come to the table with a responsible offer of their own, rather than simply declaring a stalemate, as Speaker John Boehner did today, because he didn’t like the president’s opening bid. If they continue to refuse to do so, the public won’t find it very funny."
-- from the blogpost "Republicans Would Rather Laugh Than Bargain" by the NYT Editorial Board's project editor, David Firestone
Sick as I am about hearing, reading, and thinking about the "fiscal cliff" follies, where major decisions are apt to be made about our future with hardly any mechanisms for us having any input into them, I have to say I loved John Aravosis's Americablog post yesterday, "Let’s require a super-majority for future tax cuts & defense increases," which managed to be right not just on the substance of the fiscal issues (e.g., this subhead "Health Care Didn't Cause the Deficit, GOP Tax Cuts & Wars Did"), but right in tone -- on the attack. Here's the opening of the post:
You Caused the Fiscal Cliff, Cut Your Own BenefitsAnother subhead reads: "We know what causes deficits: Republicans," which leadds John to the proposal of his post title.
I’m really sick of being told by a bunch of guys who make nearly $200,000 a year that “I have to make sacrifices for the budget deficit.
“I”ve got news for them. ”I” didn’t create the budget deficit. ”They” did.
And they did it by repeatedly, and quite submissively, voting for round after round of tax cuts and defense increases, while the rest of us kept telling them, “we’re gonna pay for this some day.”
If the Republicans and their Blue Dog allies are so concerned about the deficit, then let’s address the deficit by addressing the actual causes of the deficit. Here’s my proposal:Allowing for all appropriate wariness concerning the Democratic side in the ongoing "fiscal cliff" follies (see, for example, Howie's post earlier today "Grand Bargain -- Not All That Grand, Not For America's Working Families"), it's worth keeping in mind just who and what the administration and congressional Dems are dealing with.
1. Pass whatever legislation or rule change is needed to require a super-majority in Congress for any future reduction in taxes or increase in defense spending.
2. And for good measure, require that any tax cut or defense increase be accompanied by a corresponding tax surcharge to pay for it.
We can make it a surcharge on folks’ annual tax returns, a big red sticker or something -- kind of like what Denny’s was talking about doing with Obamacare. This way people will know exactly what that tax cut, or defense increase, is going to cost us. And maybe we can list the members of Congress who voted for, kind of like those campaign ads: “I’m John Boehner and I approve this tax surcharge.”
Which brings me to David Firestone's NYT blogpost today, "Republicans Would Rather Laugh Than Bargain." It begins:
Republicans reportedly laughed when they saw the Obama administration's initial offer in the fiscal negotiations yesterday. The idea that President Obama might actually want to enact his campaign promises -- tax hikes on the rich, modest Medicare cuts, investments in infrastructure -- is apparently considered a joke to the party that has shown virtually no flexibility in the last four years.Firestone underscores the wholesale flight from responsibility of congressional Republicans in creating conditions that guaranteed the current stalemate.
But some of that laughter may contain nervousness, because there is more going on here than just a pathway to splitting the difference. The White House made clear yesterday that it is approaching these talks from a position of responsibility, and that it actually takes seriously the notion of old-fashioned bargaining. That's something Republicans have refused to do — and now they realize they’ve been called out.
It was never responsible for Republicans to spend years adamantly declaring total opposition to higher taxes as a back-door way of starving government. . . . It was never responsible to spend years on talk shows demanding "cuts in entitlements," while running a presidential campaign that attacked Mr. Obama for cutting Medicare. . . . It was, above all, profoundly irresponsible for Republicans to govern by threatening to send the Treasury into default if they did not get their way on spending, a wholly new and ugly phenomenon in American politics.That last development -- yes, we're back to playing chicken with necessary increases in the debt ceiling! -- prompted a proposal from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to require a two-thirds congressional vote to block it. "This," Firestone reports, "was considered particularly uproarious in the offices of House and Senate Republican leaders."
I'd like to see the Dem leaders toss out John A's proposal to require that two-thirds vote for tax cuts and defense increases. Let's see how funny the R primitives find that.