Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Bi-partisan Waste Of Time...And Money

The Bi-partisan “Gang of Six” recently issued their plan to cut the deficit.  Basically the plan would cut the deficit by $3.7 trillion dollars while increasing revenue through the elimination of tax loopholes.  The plan which includes a restructuring of the US tax code has been supported by the President and a number of Republicans leading pundits to report that perhaps a larger deal can be crafted.  The Dow reacted favorably signaling the markets haven’t lost all hope…yet.
The Gang of Six plan is the latest in a whole host of deficit reduction plans that have been presented over the past several months.
The first plan was crafted by the President’s own commission.  It was called the Bowles-Simpson plan and was hailed as a tough, realistic bi-partisan plan to reduce the deficit.  The President inexplicably ignored it as did the rest of Congress.
The President then gave the State of the Union address during which he presented his own budgetary vision for the country.  Naturally that plan was dismissed by conservatives.
Then came the Republican alternative known as the Ryan Plan.  The Ryan Plan included provisions to cease Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.  Naturally that plan was dismissed by progressives.
The aforementioned Gang of Six was formed by a bi-partisan group of Senators to find common ground on the deficit.  The Gang of Six quickly became the Gang of Five when one member, Tom Coburn, quit over the lack of progress.  But they got back together later to reform the Gang of Six.  We detailed their deficit proposal earlier.
The President took another crack at the deficit with a major address to the country on the economy.  His remarks were once again dismissed by conservatives.
The President then tasked Vice President Biden with putting together a ANOTHER bi-partisan committee to tackle the deficit problem.  (Isn’t that what Bowles-Simpson was?) Only two republicans were willing to serve on the committee.  Then one of them, Eric Cantor, quit.  He was soon to be followed the other Republican, John Kyl thereby taking the “bi” out of bi-partisan.
The President then ordered the Congressional leaders to the White house where he laid down the law and told the leaders it was time to “eat our peas.”  With the President leading the negotiations the dialogue disintegrated into a fifth grade food fight.  Things got so tense that bad boy Eric Cantor managed to piss off the normally cool, calm and collected President.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell then offered yet another plan that would give the President the power to increase the debt ceiling on three separate occasions while giving the Republicans the opportunity to save face by recording their descent against each increase.  This is considered a back-up plan in case everything else goes to hell.
The Tea Party Republicans then put together a bill which is referred to as the Cut, Cap and Balance bill.  (Democrats would later label it Duck, Dodge and Dismantle.)  The conservative bill cut 2012 spending, capped future spending at 18% of GDP and proffered a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.  It also established ANOTHER committee to seek future spending cuts.  The bill passed the Republican led House.  It has no chance in the Democrat led Senate.
Now the politicians, including returning prodigal son Tom Coburn, are examining the Gang of Six bill.  Most seem to agree that given the bills complete overhaul of the tax code, there won’t be enough time to properly score the bill before the Aug 2nd default deadline.
So after all of this the country will probably get a short term extension of the debt ceiling so the debate can continue.
By our count there have been 10 separate deficit plans offered by our elected leaders.  Each has been ignored while another is put in its place.  In the end a comprehensive long term solution won’t be reached because the clock will have run down.  The only thing that they will have accomplished by Aug. 2nd is to kick the can down the road once more while wasting millions in taxpayer funds in the process.
Is  there any wonder why most Americans feel that Washington is run by a dysfunctional gaggle of partisan misfits who are incapable of governing.


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