Jewish World Review Nov 23, 2011 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Failure of the incumbency investment
By Jay Ambrose
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The congressional supercommittee did not have to be Superman, leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. The mission was more on the order of being lackadaisical traffic cops. See all those cars going 100 mph? Let's get the accelerator madness down to 96 or 97, OK?
Sorry, but committee members avoided even that duty. The Democrats wanted a ruinous, trillion-dollar, hit-the-rich-hard tax increase as the major part of a $1.2 trillion, relatively picayunish, 10-year deficit reduction in $45 trillion worth of corruptly tinged spending that threatens immediate crisis and long-term suffering.
Think of it as incumbency investment. Every dollar spent helps buy a vote from some constituency or the other. The rich have few votes, and why get serious about slowing down government growth when we can happily imitate the modern-day, near-collapse of Greece? We can also look forward to our struggling children and grandchildren cursing us as the most selfish, freebie-inebriated generation in American history when they have to foot the bill.
The Republicans on the committee were better. They at least favored some halfway meaningful cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the most threatening programs in our budgetary future. And despite the overreach of multiple pledges to avoid any and all new taxes, one brave GOP soul stood tall for tax reform simplifying our system, ending numerous corporate and individual deductions and raising revenue both by boosting the economy and grabbing more money right away through the revisions.
But no deal is not a new deal, and we're not going to be saved by the standby law that mostly skips over the entitlements, says phooey on a strong defense and makes it likely that George W. Bush-era tax decreases will be allowed to perish.
That law, referred to as "sequestering," does allow some reductions in Medicare fees paid to doctors and hospitals, meaning health-care providers that do not drop out of Medicare or go out of business will make up the loss by scheduling more appointments, it has been argued.
Don't worry about defense because we don't need as much as we have and there's lots of waste out there, some conservatives join liberals in averring. I, myself, think we still live in a dangerous world and have noticed our secretary of defense saying the cuts could make us weaker than in decades. While I am persuaded by experts that our defense structure needs reshaping to better meet current needs, I do not think lower budgets will accomplish that end. And since when does lowering a bureaucracy's budget do away with a bureaucracy's waste?
If the Bush tax cuts go away, the middle class will learn just how significant they were to them, despite prattle to the contrary, and if we get no leadership soon -- agreeing on $4 trillion worth of 10-year cuts in increased spending right away, and more trillions to come -- the recent news of a record $15 trillion debt will seem a sneeze prior to the heart attack.
Sadly, President Barack Obama, having failed at governing, has turned practically full time to the only thing he does well -- campaigning. He has repeatedly turned his back on opportunities to deal with the debt, negotiates mostly through the inoperable techniques of aloofness and lambasting, aims to please the crowd with dangerous, envy-mongering demagoguery, and has been earning the disgust even of devout followers, one of them being ultra-liberal MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews.
"He never tells what he's going to do with regard to reforming our health-care systems, Medicare, Medicaid," Matthews said before a national TV audience. "How is he going to reform Social Security? Is he going to deal with long-term debt? How? Is he going to reform the tax system? How? Just tell us. Why are we in this fight with him? Just tell us, commander, give us our orders and tell us where we're going."
My apologies for the Matthews understatement. In addition to offering no leadership, Obama has even pledged to veto steps in the right direction. Many cheer, but more and more, people seem to be catching on.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE