A few points about the debt ceiling theater
First of all it’s an incredible amount of nothing except politics.
"In reaching this agreement, each political party yielded to the other party’s highest-priority political and ideological interest," and fails to resolve the country’s long-term budget problems, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Monday.
Indeed, for all the high-stakes political drama and the apparent damage the months-long debate has inflicted on the political standing of both parties and the president, the compromise — what White House officials refer to as a "lowest common denominator" deal — achieves relatively little in the short term.
But, like most compromise, that’s the basis of such "deals". Unless very skillful or in negotiations with a pressure filled time limit one has to find the lowest common denominator and find it fast. And that’s precisely what this deal was – just enough to get enough votes on both sides of the aisle.
The question is, will it actually do anything about spending in reality. The answer is most likely “no”. Lieberman is exactly right. It not only achieves relatively little in the short term, it mostly relies on “savings” from money never spent, only projected to be spent. Obviously then a billion dollars not spent today could add up to many billions down the road if in fact it had been spent. So when you see huge numbers like 500 billion, remember that over 10 years the real cut is probably 50 billion. Or, for most numbers seen projected over 10 years, you can reduce it by a factor of 10.
Here’s the crux of the deal –
In the government’s 2012 fiscal year, the cut would be $21 billion, or less than 1% of a nearly $3.7-trillion federal budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The bulk of the projected $2.1 trillion or more of cuts does not start kicking in until after the next election when a future Congress and president could choose to rewrite the plan — a point that many conservatives have worried about.
"Enforcement is the key to whatever we do. It’s always in the out years and it never happens," said Sen. Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho), using the budget lingo for the latter years of a long-term deal.
I know, “wow”, huh? $21 billion. And in the meantime, permission to spend $2.1 trillion more. So are you still wondering why voters have no faith in politicians of either party?
The bill almost certainly defers until after next year’s election the central choice most budget experts say the country eventually must make: higher taxes or deep cuts in Medicare, the nation’s huge and fast-growing health program for the elderly.
Of course it does. John Boehner is claiming he got 98% of what he wanted. Well if that’s the case, he didn’t want much. And politically he gave away the most potent argument against this president until after the election.
Yet even with this pathetic bill we have the Civility party, that would be the Dems, out and about vilifying (remember this is the new civility – it’s much like the new math) the Tea Party with the VP calling them “terrorists” (along with Joe Nocera in the New York Times) and probably the most absurd but honest statement coming out of the mouth of Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA):
We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry [Congressman Mike] Doyle [D-Pa.] said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”
Uh, yeah, right. You mean they’ve made it tougher to spend money like a drunken sailor on shore leave in Hong Kong on money borrowed from his buddies (product idea – Democrat Barbie, “being civil is hard”).
Finally, the “super-committee”:
A bipartisan congressional committee set up by the compromise bill is supposed to grapple with the long-term choices over the next four months. White House officials insist they see that panel as a serious opportunity to try again for a major deficit reduction deal. Their hope is that members of both parties will back an agreement rather than accept automatic across-the-board cuts in defense and domestic agency budgets.
But many in Congress, whose leaders will appoint the panel’s 12 members, believe the panel more likely will deadlock.
"I think it’s very possible, maybe even probable, that with a committee you’re going to have a 6-6 vote," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).
And, of course, should it deadlock, the meat axe will fall heaviest on defense. And meat axe is the correct metaphor because the cuts mandated by failure to act are across the board cuts, not carefully considered cuts which will eliminate unneeded or unnecessary spending but leave critical spending alone. Nope, we’ll see a grand hollowing of the force – again.
So, all in all, not such a grand deal after all. But, with the smoke and mirrors show and the liberal caterwauling we’ve heard, you’d think they’d actually cut some real money we don’t have out of the current budget.
Oh, that’s right, we don’t have a current budget do we?
And why again is this crowd still in Washington DC?