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John Boehner In GOP Fantasyland

One wonders why Congress convened its budget-reforming “supercommittee” at all; House Speaker John Boehner (R) on Thursday announced that he’d done all its members’ work for them.

At a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner articulated a hard-right line on taxes that even the most moderate of Democrats could never accept. Remove loopholes from the tax code, he argued, but “not for the purpose of bringing more money into the government.” Tax increases? Not a chance — they “are off the table,” Boehner said, repeating the dubious argument that planning to raise revenue many years down the road would hurt job creation now. If you’re looking for deficit reduction, Boehner barked, “the joint committee only has one option — spending cuts and entitlement reform.”

A new Bloomberg poll on Thursday reconfirmed voter anger at Washington’s inability to compromise — on budgets, on jobs policy, on long-term deficits. On the same day, the speaker gave a lesson by example of why it’s been so hard.

True, Boehner’s speech followed news that President Obama is scaling back the entitlement reforms he would favor in a long-term budget reform package, retreating from concessions he was willing to make over the summer to strike a debt deal. Both sides, then, are hardening their positions. But Obama’s remains politically braver than Boehner’s, since the president says he still wants to achieve some balance between raising revenue and cutting spending through reforms to Medicare, the protection of which Democrats are desperate to use as a campaign issue.

That is the key to deficit-cutting, drilled home in study after study: You can’t expect to fix America’s finances with tax increases alone or with spending cuts alone. Plans that lack this essential balance would fail either because their math doesn’t add up (the GOP’s Ryan plan) or because they would be reversed the second the other party took control of the government (the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s proposal…and the Ryan plan).

A deficit plan must also be balanced in another way — against premature budget austerity while the economy is sluggish, which Obama designed his latest jobs plan to avoid. Boehner said on Thursday there might be room for limited agreement with Obama. But not much, signalling disapproval of even the sorts of temporary tax cuts that would have been an obvious choice for Republicans for decades — until now.

Boehner might just be gearing up for further negotiations. But the speaker’s demonstration that he and his party are still in thrall to the ideological fantasies he described on Thursday aren’t going to enhance Americans’ confidence — in their leaders, or in their economic future.

 

By: Stephen Stromberg, The Washington Post, September 15, 2011

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memo To Speaker Boehner: Time To Get Off “My Way Or The Highway” Hypocrisy

In a wide-ranging speech about jobs and the budget on Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) trumpeted the worthy goals of cleaning up the tax code and reducing long-term deficits, and he had a few promising words about how to achieve them. “If we want to create a better environment for job creation,” the speaker said, “politicians of all stripes can leave the ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy behind.”

Yet Mr. Boehner also insisted that Congress’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has only “one option”: the Republican way.

President Obama has proposed a jobs plan, but there’s only one job the GOP wants.

Congress should remove inefficient carve-outs, credits and loopholes in the tax code, he said, but “not for the purposes of bringing more money into the government.” Tax increases “are off the table.” “Spending cuts and entitlement reform” are the only ways the joint committee can reach its $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction target.

Mr. Boehner isn’t the only one toughening his stance as the joint committee gets underway. President Obama is retreating from reforms to Social Security that he was ready to consider during the summer debt-limit negotiations. But Mr. Obama still expresses a willingness to reform Medicare, an ideological and political compromise.

Willingness on both sides is essential. Reams of expert studies have found that any deal to significantly reduce long-term deficits must achieve a balance between money-saving reforms to increasingly expensive entitlement programs and a sizable boost in federal revenue. Plans that don’t reflect this balance would fail because their math wouldn’t add up, they wouldn’t be politically durable, or both.

While planning for long-term fiscal sustainability, Congress also cannot risk enhancing economic hardship now by moving too quickly toward budget austerity. Mr. Obama’s recently announced jobs plan seeks to avoid this with new spending and temporary tax cuts that economists say will help guard against a double-dip recession. Here, too, however, Mr. Boehner indicated Thursday that the chances for cooperation with Republicans is limited, saying that he doesn’t favor “short-term gimmicks.”

Poll after poll has shown that Washington leaders’ inability to surrender ideological ground is poisoning Americans’ faith in their national leadership — perhaps even in the very institutions of government. Mr. Boehner and his party should live up to the speaker’s own standard — and leave the “my way or the highway” philosophy behind.

 

By: Editorial Board, The New York Times, September 16, 2011

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Crisis, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Social Security, Tax Increases, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed, Wealthy | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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