I just was curious what, beyond rhetoric, was in the two versions of deficit reduction duking their way through Congress. I'm not going to bore y'all with a technical analysis, just a (hopefully) common-sense highlighting.
First, CC&B. Start with a $111 billion cut in spending by fiscal 2012. Wow, a whole .7% of the debt as figured on debtclock.com. Achieved by scaling back (non-security related) discretionary spending to 2008 levels, and cutting non-discretionary funding (outside of vet benefits and Medicare/SS) by $35 billion. Gosh, don't knock yourselves out.
Proceed to a Balanced Budget Amendment. Various representatives have been trying to get this since 1936, most notably since 1975, and their success has been not far better than that of the Equal Rights Amendment. And now, we're going to pass this as the "gun to the head" for a debt ceiling raise? Can we be realistic here? You've got a better chance at "a chicken in every pot" than a BBA under the best of circumstances. The hardline GOP know this, thus they added:
A debt ceiling increase of $2.4 TRILLION, if the BBA passes.
So to sum up C,C,&B- this is a great propaganda tool but not anything close to serious legislation. If I was a democrat, I'd take it as an insult to my intelligence (all easy jokes aside, please). I gather Obama's taking it that way too. As PT Barnum might say, it just wasn't Obama's minute this time.
Okay, now let's go on to the Gang of 6 plan. First off, who are the Gang of 6? The “Gang of Six” is led by Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Saxby Chambliss and includes four members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The others are Dems Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kent Conrad of North Dakota. The GOP underwriters are Mike Crapo (boy, I'd change THAT name) of Idaho and Tom "Dr. No" Coburn of Oklahoma. For more on these men, if you choose, look here. The plan starts with an immediate reduction of $500 billion (okay, now we're up to 3.4%), though they're not well-defined; discretionary spending caps, budget process reforms, a changeover of accounting methods (liars, damn liars, and statisticians, etc., etc.), repealing Ted Kennedy's beloved national health care insurance ( the "CLASS" act), policy changes including Congressional pay freezes (believe THAT when I see it), among others.
Over the next ten years, the plan is to cut $3.7 trillion (almost 26%). However, the job of doing it is left to various Congressional committees, albeit with a time limit. The Finance cmt. is to reform the SS/Medicare system in such a way to make it solvent for the next 75 years. Armed Services has to cut $80 billion, Dpts. of Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions each have a target of $70 bil, Homeland Security and Government Affairs $65 bil each. Ag gets to cut $11, as does Commerce; Energy gets to cough up $6 bil, and Justice has to find a way to save billions through basically tort reform. On top of this, the Finance committee has to: simplify the tax code to do away with loopholes and set up a three tiered tax rate; repeal the alternative minimum tax; effect these reforms in such a way as to stimulate growth ( their WTF moment, fer shure);and still find a way to increase revenues by $1.4 trillion over those ten years. Plus, they have to find a way to add $133 billion by 2021 for the Highway Trust Fund- WITHOUT a gas tax increase. And in a final piece of legerdemain, they get to decide on a SINGLE corporate tax rate.
In addition, the CBO gets to work on saving $26 billion by catching the money they're pissing away on medicare cheats. Now, I do see a lot of good ideas here, but the big question mark to me is getting the Congressional committees to actually do the work. And here is where the best part comes in: any committee that doesn't get their report in on time faces ACROSS THE BOARD cuts of the target amounts. OUCH!!
Still, this is great legislation that contains a large dose of pie-in-the-sky. A LOT of WTF moments in committee, and the capitol will ring with the howls of outraged PACs and special interest agents. Thing is, I think it beats the GOP plan by a country mile. I find this "No taxes whatsoever" attitude stupid and disingenuous. Not because I want more taxes- or could afford them- but because I think there is a HUGE amount of people (read: BIIIG corporations) that piss in the bucket of what they should be paying. It's time for the Tea Partyers to realize that the GOP is paying two agendas with their tax refusal- brown nosing them and taking care of their biggest donors. I think that any legislator that monkeys around with C,C, &B while fighting GO6 is in fact betraying the little guy who voted for them. IMHO, this is a chance to see the soul of the GOP here and now- is it small business you really want to help- or the guy from Exxon-Mobil (where do you think that Highway Trust Fund money gets to come from if the gas tax is off-limits?)?
And GO6? Here's the test of your ability. Will you have the resolve to hold the committees, the Congress, the President, and yourselves, to the laid-out task? Or will you let Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama run rings around this law like they do the laws on the books right now? It's one thing to commit "the right thing to do" to paper- another entirely to do it.