Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Forecast Calls For Pain, Pt. 2

In the immediate aftermath of the debt ceiling debacle, subsequent credit downgrade, market tankings, and renewed fears over a double dip recession, what's the congressional prognosis? What's the next chapter in As The Incompetent Nitwits Turn? The forecast calls for pain. Again.

When we last left our heroes, they had begun retreating to their lush summer homes to recuperate from the exhausting effort of not budging on anything, changing their minds about nothing, and blaming the other side for everything. They left us with the promise to work from a committee geared towards compromise.

Riiiiiiiight. Today, the names of the committee members are trickling out. Let the vicious, mean-spirited squabbling begin resume continue. Let each side tell us why the other side's choices demonstrate bad faith while theirs are the height of wisdom and good faith.

Now, notice that neither party's diarrhea-mouthed PR flacks can even manage to keep their mouths shut about who gets on the committee. The sniping can't even wait until the committee gets to work and floats preliminary proposals. Really?

So, are we actually supposed to believe that this committee is going to do a single thing to get us closer to the scope of compromise we're going to need to bridge a defict gap between 2.2 trillion dollars of revenue and 3.7 trillion dollars of spending? How stupid, how guileless, how innocently faithful would we have to be?

I don't believe it for a second. Not one second. Republicans have shown nothing if not an invigorated commitment to opposing revenue increases no matter what else comes up on the table with it. They won't support restoring the previous top tax bracket rate. And they won't support any proposal that closes corporate tax loopholes while lowering tax rates if that proposal results in any immediate additional government revenue. And democrats won't heave even a smidgen of social security or medicare revisions onto the table without that. I'm calling it now. The absolute best we can hope for out of this committee is bitterness, gridlock, vitriol, and another last minute deal that does the absolute bare minimum. Along with yet another empty promise to try harder and do better next time.

Time for regular Americans to notice that we've been in an abusive relationship with both Democrats and Republicans in congress. And they're never going to change. Thy take us for granted, they beat us, and then they make empty promises that this time they're really going to change. Time to walk out. Or else we keep getting what we deserve.

UPDATE: John Avlon reports on CNN that not a single member so far named has any record of bipartisan compromise. They're all staunch partisans, says Avlon, and the committee is a recipe for more gridlock. What a shocker. It occurs to me that the should have made each party choose the OTHER party's members.


  1. While you correctly outline what the nature of the impasse is, you seem to be making a "well damn them all to hell" conclusion.

    Why SHOULDN'T the Democrats be unwilling to give up something for nothing when their negotiating partners, the Republicans, insist that they should GET something for nothing?

    How is this a failure of Congress writ large?

    One side has shown willingness to bargain, and the other hasn't.

    So why should the outcome -- no deal -- be blamed on both parties?

    Do Democrats deserve half the blame for gridlock because they are behaving as any rational negotiating party would -- expecting something in exchange for their concession -- when their counterparts are making demands and offering no concessions of their own?

    What do you expect to happen? Democrats can be weak-willed, but they're not stupid. They were NEVER going to give up huge cuts in spending that hit the middle and lower class whilst getting NOTHING in revenue increases.

    And how in holy political hell can entitlement reform be accomplished in a democracy if there is no sense of fairness and mutual sacrifice?

    Of course the outcome will be a short-term kick-the-can deal, because one side expects the other to give it everything it wants while giving up nothing.

    You can't negotiate like that.

    This same impasse applies to the super committee. Will you cast equal portions of blame on the Democrats there who will take the same "get something / give something" approach while the Republicans will surely again take the "get something / give nothing" approach ?

    I understand why you're pissed off at the outcome, but how can you intellectually honestly blame both parties for it?

  2. It's not about blame. Defenders of the democrats want it to be about blame. They LOOOOOOOOOOOVE to play the game of showing how and why Republicans are worse. And THAT, my friend, is the exact same recipe that is always used by to vault back over the other party. Lather, rinse, repeat. That dynamic has to be escaped.

    It's not about blame, it's about responsibiiity. Further it's about Americans as a group opening there eyes and seeing that congress as an institution won't take that responsibility. So we'll have to replace them with folks that will.

    Sure Republicans got serious religion about our debt only after they were ejected. But it's been a strand in their DNA doe quite awhile. Meanwhile, pray tell me what has gotten any of the democrats "willing to deal" as you describe it? Republican intransigence. You can't, with any of that intellectual honesty you tired to jam down my throat, claim that Democrats as a group gave a shit about deficit spending. They've only just begun to grudgingly concede that it's an issue. And no one can tell either of us how many actual votes there are for SS and medicare reform within the democratic party.

    In other words, we have no idea how "willing to deal" they actually are. How recently was it that Both Nancy Reid and Nancy Pelosi judged ss and medicare sacrosanct? What sorts of changes are now supportable in their view?

    Remember. I sat and listened for over a year while democratic supporters claimed that Obama care (which I supported, BTW) was revenue positive according to the CBO. Every time I told them that this claim was based on cuts to medicare providers that would NEVER happen, they utterly ignored this and simply repeated that the CBO was trustworthy. Prior to that, for years and years, I listened to democratic supporters who insisted that social security would not become a burden to the federal budget until after an accounting device called the social security trust fund was used up. And who was right? Not democrats.

    If you want to pat to democrats on the back because they've managed to position their entire party as the reasonable ones almost exclusively on the back of their President's public pronouncements, none of which have been supported by details, then that is your fool's mileage.

    But I won't get fooled again.

    And my response here is probably worthy of being a post of its own. Because you've helped me see how democrats will seek to make their next shift towards power. So for my message to succeed. I do need to make the case that irrespective of how the GOP may have behaved, there's simply no reason to now entrust democrats with the keys to the car again.