Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) Has A Plan That-- With A TINY Bit Of Tweaking-- Could Erase The Budget Deficit Forever And Clean Up Washington
Thursday we looked at how strongly the Republican Party Establishment backed sequestration. Even Speaker Boehner, who normally doesn't vote, but who had a loud message to send, voted in favor of it-- as did every single Republican Party leader, from Cantor and McCarthy all the way down the food chain to Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon, who's been whining about it ever since. But now they're all whining about how it will devastate the economy-- which they seem to have picked up from hearing President Obama drill through their heads. But Boehner claims it's "our vest leverage" and is demanding pain for working families in return for them not imposing it on the economy. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Yesterday Greg Sargent laid out the Senate Democrats' offer to the Republicans for a rational détente on this insanity, which he got from Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The Dems think they can save taxpayers $120 billion over ten months in a proposal that will avert sequestration with a balanced 50-50 mix of new revenues and spending cuts-- but with no benefits cuts to society's most vulnerable members.
“Reid made a decision to do something the country will support,” Brown told me. “We just have to get Republicans off of their intransigence on this.”It may not be a plan as comprehensive and positive as the one offered by the House Progressive Caucus but... well Max Baucus is never going to be Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Ed Markey or Barbara Lee. In fact, we should probably be grateful that Max Baucus is also never going to be the Georgia Republican and prospective Senate candidate, Jack Kingston, who has his own crackpot ideas on what to do about balancing the budget. The Ayn Rand fan club at the Wall Street Journal jumped right on board:
...Brown said that some of the spending cuts being considered for the plan include cutting farm subsidies, some defense cuts, and perhaps cuts to Medicare, but only on the provider side. A senior Senate Democratic leadership aide told me that when it comes to the defense cuts in the plan, it will be a “scaled back version of what the sequester already does.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are mulling an array of new revenues for the plan: The Buffett Rule, ending the carried interest loophole, nixing tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs, and cutting farm subsidies (many of which were expected).
At the heart of his reform plan is restoring the process of automatic spending cuts that prevailed in the late 1980s under the name Gramm-Rudman. In the 1980s deficits were the budget cut trigger, but Mr. Kingston would apply it to spending levels. If Appropriators exceed the spending targets set early in the fiscal year under the Budget Act, automatic "sequesters," or across the board program cuts, would be imposed. When this process was in place in the 1980s, the deficit as a share of GDP fell to below 3% from 6%. Mr. Kingston says his goal is to reduce spending over time to 18% of GDP, down from 24% to 25% today."Removing Members from subcommittees on which they are unable, for home state political reasons, to cast difficult antispending votes" sounds good-- but not nearly as good as removing Members from subcommittees on which they are unable, because of campaign contributions they've taken from lobbyists and corporations, to cast difficult antispending votes. Now if that was implemented, Washington would be fixed... overnight.
Mr. Kingston says one of his main goals is to "destroy the infrastructure of spending." This would include removing Members from subcommittees on which they are unable, for home state political reasons, to cast difficult antispending votes. He would end the concept of "emergency spending," which both parties routinely use to evade spending targets and inflate the deficit with little public scrutiny.
This morning in his weekly address to the nation, President Obama again urged Congress to stop playing games and avert the sequester which everyone in Washington who doesn't want to wreck the economy, knows will be a disaster.
Over the last few years, Democrats and Republicans have come together and cut our deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. That’s more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties say we need to stabilize our debt.
I believe we can finish the job the same way we’ve started it-- with a balanced mix of more spending cuts and more tax reform. And the overwhelming majority of the American people agree-- both Democrats and Republicans.
Now, my preference-- and the preference of many Members of Congress-- is to do that in a balanced, comprehensive way, by making sensible changes to entitlement programs and reforming our tax code. As we speak, both the House and Senate are working towards budget proposals that I hope will lay out this kind of balanced path going forward.
But the budget process takes time. And right now, if Congress doesn’t act by March 1st, a series of harmful, automatic cuts to job-creating investments and defense spending – also known as the sequester-- are scheduled to take effect. And the result could be a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole.
If the sequester is allowed to go forward, thousands of Americans who work in fields like national security, education or clean energy are likely to be laid off. Firefighters and food inspectors could also find themselves out of work-- leaving our communities vulnerable. Programs like Head Start would be cut, and lifesaving research into diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s could be scaled back. Small businesses could be prevented from getting the resources and support they need to keep their doors open. People with disabilities who are waiting for their benefits could be forced to wait even longer. All our economic progress could be put at risk.
And then there’s the impact on our military readiness. Already, the threat of deep cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf. As our military leaders have made clear, changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in an unstable part of the world. And we will be forced to make even more tough decisions in the weeks ahead if Congress fails to act.
The good news is, there’s another option. Two months ago, we faced a similar deadline, and instead of making deep, indiscriminate cuts that would have cost us jobs and slowed down our recovery, Democrats and Republicans came together and made responsible cuts and manageable changes to our tax code that will bring down our deficit. This time, Congress should pass a similar set of balanced cuts and close more tax loopholes until they can find a way to replace the sequester with a smarter, longer-term solution.
Right now, most Members of Congress-- including many Republicans-- don’t think it’s a good idea to put thousands of jobs at risk and do unnecessary damage to our economy. And yet the current Republican plan puts the burden of avoiding those cuts mainly on seniors and middle-class families. They would rather ask more from the vast majority of Americans and put our recovery at risk than close even a single tax loophole that benefits the wealthy.
Over the last few years, we’ve made good progress towards reducing our deficit in a balanced way. There’s no reason we can’t keep chipping away at this problem. And there’s certainly no reason that middle-class families and small businesses should suffer just because Washington couldn’t come together and eliminate a few special interest tax loopholes, or government programs that just don’t work. At a time when economists and business leaders from across the spectrum have said that our economy is poised for progress, we shouldn’t allow self-inflicted wounds to put that progress in jeopardy.
So my message to Congress is this: let’s keep working together to solve this problem. And let’s give our workers and our businesses the support they need to grow and thrive. Thanks, and have a great weekend.