Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Boehner Now Appears To Be Trying To Drive The Economy Off The GOP-Manufactured Fiscal Curb


I sure hope congressional Democrats are paying attention to Robert Reich's little video above. Yesterday Boehner and his crew of sociopaths-- with Republican Senator Bob Corker's ringing endorsement on Meet the Press for "severe pain" for working families fresh in their minds-- presented President Obama with their counterproposal to avoid their ginned-up, Republican manufactured so-called "Fiscal Cliff." Short version: the thoroughly rejected Ryan Budget meets the thoroughly rejected Romney tax plan.

The Republicans are eager to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and to lower the cost-of-living hikes for Social Security recipients, exactly what the voters-- and remember, despite gerrymandering over a million more congressional race pulled the lever for a Democrat than for a Republican-- said they do not want.
The GOP plan also proposes to raise $800 billion in higher tax revenue over the decade but it would keep the Bush-era tax cuts-- including those for wealthier earners targeted by Obama-- in place for now.

...GOP aides said the plan was based on a plan floated by Erskine Bowles in testimony to the special deficit "supercommittee" last year-- in effect a milder version of the highly controversial 2010 Bowles proposal that caused both GOP and Democratic leaders in Congress to recoil.

By GOP math, the plan would produce $2.2 trillion in saving over the coming decade: $800 billion in higher taxes; $600 billion in savings from costly health care programs like Medicare; $300 billion from other proposals like forcing federal workers to contribute more toward their pensions; and $300 billion in additional savings from the Pentagon budget and domestic programs funded by Congress each year.

Under the administration's math, GOP aides said, the plan represents $4.6 trillion in 10-year savings. That estimate accounts for earlier cuts enacted during last year's showdown over lifting the government's borrowing cap and also factors in war savings and lower interest payments on the $16.4 trillion national debt.

Last week, the White House delivered to Capitol Hill its opening proposal: $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over a decade, a possible extension of the temporary Social Security payroll tax cut and heightened presidential power to raise the national debt limit.

In exchange, the president would back $600 billion in spending cuts, including $350 billion from Medicare and other health programs. But he also wants $200 billion in new spending for jobless benefits, public works projects and aid for struggling homeowners. His proposal for raising the ceiling on government borrowing would make it virtually impossible for Congress to block him going forward.

Republicans said they responded in closed-door meetings with laughter and disbelief.
Today it was conservative Democrat Erskine Bowles who was in a state of disbelief. He immediately issued a statement disavowing the letter Boehner and the GOP leadership sent to Obama:
While I'm flattered the Speaker would call something "the Bowles plan," the approach outlined in the letter Speaker Boehner sent to the President does not represent the Simpson-Bowles plan, nor is it the Bowles plan. In my testimony before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, I simply took the mid-point of the public offers put forward during the negotiations to demonstrate where I thought a deal could be reached at that time.

The Joint Select Committee failed to reach a deal, and circumstances have changed since then. It is up to negotiators to figure out where the middle ground is today. Every offer put forward brings us closer to a deal, but to reach an agreement, it will be necessary for both sides to move beyond their opening positions and reach agreement on a comprehensive plan which avoids the fiscal cliff and puts the debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy.
The official White House response, from Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, was less circumspect. “The Republican letter released today," he said, "does not meet the test of balance. In fact, it actually promises to lower rates for the wealthy and sticks the middle class with the bill. Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve. Independent analysts who have looked at plans like this one have concluded that middle class taxes will have to go up to pay for lower rates for millionaires and billionaires. While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates. President Obama believes-– and the American people agree-– that the economy works best when it is grown from the middle out, not from the top down. Until the Republicans in Congress are willing to get serious about asking the wealthiest to pay slightly higher tax rates, we won’t be able to achieve a significant, balanced approach to reduce our deficit our nation needs.”

Nancy Pelosi, who is busy trying to get a straight-up vote on save breaks for the first $250,000 of everyone's income, suggested the Republicans "instead of wasting the public’s time... allow a vote on the Senate-passed middle income tax cuts to strengthen middle class families, spur growth in our economy, provide certainty to small businesses, and create jobs. Democrats are filing a discharge petition, to force a vote on extending the middle income tax cut, on Tuesday at noon. There’s no time to waste.”

ABC News reported yesterday that Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely. It’s quite simple: House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more: no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes. Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

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