Fiscal Responsibility

Memo from Dem Leader & Dem Whip Press Offices: Afternoon Roundup - Republican Refusal Edition

To: Reporters, Editors, Producers
Fr: Democratic Leader and Democratic Whip Press Offices
Dt: November 22, 2011
Re: Afternoon Roundup - Republican Refusal Edition

One look at today’s news makes it clear: the GOP's insistence on an unfair plan that extends the Bush tax cuts for those making more than a million dollars a year led to these headlines…

The Washington Post – Robinson: Republican obstinacy doomed the supercommittee

No, the sun didn’t rise in the west this morning. No, Republicans on the congressional supercommittee didn’t offer meaningful concessions on raising new tax revenue. And no, “both sides” are not equally responsible for the failure to compromise.

As usual, the two parties began with vastly different ideas of what it means to negotiate. Democrats envisioned meeting somewhere in the middle, while Republicans anticipated not moving an inch. This isn’t just my spin, it’s a matter of public record: Before the 12-member supercommittee ever met, House Speaker John Boehner warned that they had better not agree to any new tax revenue.

Think about this for a minute. The whole point of the subcommittee exercise was to begin reducing the ballooning national debt, now more than $15 trillion. Closing such a big gap with spending cuts is possible only in the parallel universe inhabited by GOP ideologues, a place where the laws of arithmetic do not apply.

Atlanta Journal Constitution – For GOP, deficit reduction was never the goal in the first place

You could offer a lot of reasons for the apparent failure of the supercommittee to reach agreement on cutting the deficit before its deadline of midnight tonight.

However, the bottom line was the Bush tax cuts.

The Republicans insisted on making them permanent. The Democrats refused. And the Democrats had the better part of the argument. After all, everybody supposedly agreed that the supercommittee’s overwhelming priority — its entire reason for existence in the first place — was to cut the deficit and debt.

And if that’s the goal, you cannot responsibly insist on maintaining the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, given that such a step INCREASES the national debt by $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. You can cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut student loans and cut Social Security, but if you do all those things AND make the tax cuts permanent, you have succeeded in making life tougher for a lot of people but you accomplished nothing toward reducing the deficit. In fact, you’ve made things worse than if you just sit back and do nothing.

The New York Times – The Supercommittee Collapses

“The smoke from the smoldering failure known as the deficit “supercommittee” spread heavily across Capitol Hill on Monday, allowing Republicans to obscure the simple truth about the failure to reach an agreement. The only reason the committee failed was because Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich, and, in fact, wanted to cut them even below their current bargain-basement level.”

“…By comparison, the Republican offers were risible. One pretended to raise revenue by $300 billion, while actually calling for the Bush tax cuts to be permanent and even reducing the top bracket to 28 percent from 35 percent.”

Washington Post’s Wonkbook – In supercommittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter

“And if you look at the numbers, it's pretty easy to see which party moved further towards a compromise.”

“…The final Boehner plan envisioned tax reform that would generate $800 billion in new revenues and bring the top rate down to 35 percent. In the supercommittee, the highest Republicans ever got on taxes was the Toomey plan's $300 billion, with envisioned a top rate of 28 percent. So on taxes, it's fairly clear: The supercommittee Republicans were far to the right of Boehner.”

“…But if the question is whether the Democrats or the Republicans moved further in the direction of a compromise, there's no doubt that compared to the last set of negotiations, the Democrats moved right and the Republicans moved further right.”

The New Republic – Getting Over the Super-Committee

“Of course, it would have been great if the super-committee could have dealt with the payroll tax and unemployment insurance as part of a much grander compromise – in other words, a package that included short-term stimulus and long-term deficit reduction. But that possibility was always very slim, because of the positions the two parties hold. Simply put, Democrats are willing to compromise by embracing spending cuts as well as new taxes. Republicans refuse to consider new taxes, at least beyond very token gestures.”

The Washington Post’s The Plum Line – No, `both sides’ aren’t equally to blame for supercommittee failure

Here’s why the supercommittee is failing, in one sentence: Democrats wanted the rich to pay more in taxes towards deficit reduction, and Republicans wanted the rich to pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction…

…in truth, what the GOP proposal would have really meant is that that the wealthy would pay less in taxes towards deficit reduction than they would if we just did nothing, i.e., let the Bush tax cuts expire, as stipulated by current law. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, this not only would have taken further tax increases on the wealthy completely off the table in future deficit reduction talks; the cutting of tax rates across the board would also have disproportionately benefitted the wealthy…

So again: One side wanted the rich to pay less towards deficit reduction; the other wanted the rich to pay more towards it. This is the difference that doomed the agreement…

it’s plainly true that one side was willing to concede far more than the other to make a deal possible. And anyone who pretends otherwise is just part of the problem.

USA Today – Why the 'supercommittee' failed

In fact, Republicans' obsessive drive to shield the wealthy from modest tax increases has been the biggest obstacle to a deal all year.

Washington Monthly’s Political Animal – The right blames Obama for GOP’s debt failure

As the super-committee implodes, the rush is on to assign blame. At this point, many Republicans and media figures want to point the finger at President Obama…

Let’s count the ways in which this fails to make any sense whatsoever…

Members of this committee were given a task: strike a deal. Democrats were willing to meet Republicans more than half way; Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. It’s only natural to wonder who’s to blame when there’s a breakdown like this, but holding the White House responsible is deeply foolish.

Think Progress – GOP Derails Super Committee To Protect Millionaires & Billionaires

…For weeks, the GOP has been refusing to even consider new revenue, pairing modest attempts to close loopholes in the tax code with giant new tax cuts centered on the very rich that would add trillions to the deficit. The committee’s co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) even said the GOP would not consider “any penny” in new revenue (a statement that he later walked back). Without a deal, automatic cuts are supposed to be scheduled for 2013, but several congressional leaders have been discussing canceling the cuts, leaving the super committee the latest in a long line of deficit commissions to unable to succeed in their attempt to alter the U.S. budget.