The Republican lead House is expected to vote today on the Tea Party’s plan to raise the debt ceiling. The legislation is called the CUT, CAP and BALANCE Plan and it includes the following provisions:
CUT - cut the 2012 Fiscal year deficit by 50%.
CAP – cap spending at 18% of GDP.
BALANCE – authors the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution including the requirement of a supermajority (2/3) vote to pass any increase in taxes.
In exchange for passage of this plan the Republicans would allow the President to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion dollars; thereby avoiding a default on the country’s obligations.
Sounds good, right? The plan cuts spending while forcing the government to live within its means. And it keeps taxes low for all eternity. Perfect!
So what’s the problem? Why all the fuss from the left?
Because cutting the 2012 fiscal year spending by 50% would cause 700,000 more Americans to lose their jobs.
Because capping spending at 18% of GDP would force the government to adopt the cuts of the much, maligned Ryan Plan. Medicare would become a voucher system and cease to exist as we know it. Medicare would be turned over to the states under a block grant program. And education, unemployment benefits and other social programs would be slashed or eliminated in their entirety.
And finally, because the balanced budget amendment and supermajority vote are designed to hold the debt limit hostage and lock in the budget to permanently reflect the Grover Norquist and Tea Party vision of what this country should be.
The Republicans know full well that this plan has zero chance of passing in the Senate or avoiding the President’s veto. But they will go through the charade so they can go back to their constituents and say “we tried to do what you sent us to Washington to do but the Democrats and the President would not give up on their expensive free spending ways.” Then the Republicans will come back to the table and negotiate a deal to avoid default.
It is already happening. Even as Republicans were preparing to for today’s vote Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor were secretly meeting with the President to craft a compromise. No word on the results of their Sunday conference but you can bet Cut, Cap and Balance were not part of the discussion.
So why all of the theatrics? Why the smoke and mirrors?
Because Congress is dysfunctional and CYA politics has become the norm. Getting re-elected is more important than anything; even if it means jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States government.
The American people are becoming more and more frustrated with the inability of Congress and the President to do what is right for the country. According to the latest USA TODAY/GALLUP poll the GOP approval rating stands at 28%. The President fairs a little better at 33%. The country is fed up with the behavior in Washington.
Once again a newly elected Congress has misinterpreted the will of the people. They have not learned the lessons of their predecessors.
Democrats made the same mistake in 2008. The President gave Pelosi the keys to his stimulus program. Swept into the majority with the historic election of our first black President the Democratic Congress loaded the stimulus package with every piece of pork that they could find. The voters were outraged and they voiced their displeasure by removing the Democrats from the majority in 2010.
Now come the Republicans. They vowed to cut spending, lower taxes and shrink the size of government. So confident were they in their beliefs they dared to suggest an overhaul of the previously sacrosanct entitlement programs. They misinterpreted their ascension into power as a mandate to gut the government. They proposed the Ryan Plan and were quickly taken to the woodshed by the American people. The voters will not speak officially until 2012; but it is clear that they are not happy that the Republicans have placed their ideology above the good of the country.
At the end of the day the games will end and debt ceiling will be increased. Sadly the “Grand Bargain” that seemed so promising just a few days ago will be replaced with a much smaller deal that will kick the larger problems down the road. The politicians will make bold face saving statements trumpeting their compromise. Everyone in Washington will be a winner. Only the American people will suffer a loss.
It used to be that the economy affected politics. Now, sadly, our politics are affecting the economy. Ideology has prevented the country from moving forward and the dangerous game of political chicken has impacted our economic stability.
The American people are tired of all the games. They will make that quite clear in 2012.