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Archive for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Analysis: End to debt gridlock is not in sight

November 22, 2011

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— The supercommittee’s failure reflects the nation’s divide: Americans crave both the Republicans’ demand for low taxes and the Democrats’ insistence on protecting social programs. So far, no group or leader has persuaded them they can’t have both, and there’s no quick solution in sight.

It’s possible the stalemate won’t be broken by the time of the 2012 elections, nearly a year away. Some GOP strategists think Republicans can oust President Barack Obama and win control of both chambers of Congress. That would enable them to enact much of their agenda, and Americans could render a judgment on its results.

Or, perhaps, Democrats will score big victories that will force Republicans to yield some ground.

The bipartisan supercommittee’s collapse stems from an all-too-familiar reality of modern politics. Republican lawmakers respond to activists who overwhelmingly oppose higher taxes. And Democrats answer to activists who will tolerate no nicks in Medicare, Social Security and other programs without steeper taxes on the wealthy.

The same differences pushed the nation to the brink of default last summer, prompting the first-ever downgrade of the government’s creditworthiness.

Yet no leader or group has convinced enough Americans that everyone must accept some pain to bring taxes and government services more closely in line. So the federal debt hit $15 trillion last week. And the government suffered another embarrassment Monday, immediately spooking U.S. markets and possibly unsettling foreign markets in the days ahead.

Nineteenth Century Americans venerated Henry Clay as “the Great Compromiser” for helping resolve knotty national problems. Today, that title would almost surely be hurled as an insult, especially at a rally or caucus to nominate someone for Congress.

The supercommittee’s six Democrats and six Republicans knew they would be criticized for failing to reach an accord. But they saw a worse fate in straying too far from their respective parties’ uncompromising stands on taxes and social programs.

Many veteran politicians expect more versions of recent elections, which were heavily influenced by partisan activists who put a scare into lawmakers threatening to veer from party orthodoxy.

“Compromise is not where the incentives are in the political process right now,” said former Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, who once headed the GOP’s House campaign committee. Because so many House districts are solidly Republican or solidly Democratic, he said, “members are judged by what their primary electorate thinks of them.”

Eventually, Davis said, repeated failures to tame the deficit might inflict so much pain on Americans — possibly through a severe recession or even depression — that today’s primary-dominated voting patterns will change.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 1 month ago

It's all about getting the voters to vote for you! For politicians, that's the important thing.

If the American public were to be wise enough to vote for statesmen instead of politicians, many of our nation's problems would at least approach solutions.

The problem is there aren't very many statesmen available, and the few that do exist cannot get the voters to vote for them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Americans crave both the Republicans’ demand for low taxes and the Democrats’ insistence on protecting social programs. So far, no group or leader has persuaded them they can’t have both, and there’s no quick solution in sight."

We can have both. The solutions are simple. Raise the top bracket back on income taxes to 40%, including capital gains, eliminate the income cap on contributions to social security, expand Medicare coverage to everyone, and cut military spending by at least 70%, creating a true "defense" department.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

One other-- a 1/4% tax on all Wall Street trading.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Just out of curiosity, if we did those things you recommended, (raise the top bracket, increase taxes on capital gains, etc.), exactly how much extra would you be paying. In other words, is this just a proposal that would raise taxes on other people with zero shared sacrifice by you? Or even worse, with and expansion of services that you suggest (expanding Medicare), will you be not only be not sharing in the sacrificing but also be consuming additional services? The very reason we have gridlock is that everyone wants someone else to sacrifice, not themselves. And then they spend all their time rationalizing why that's the correct or moral thing to do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

No, what you want is to turn the argument away from what will fix the problems we face, to the irrelevancy of how it would affect me personally.

jayhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

The argument should turn towards you, Bozo, because you are the problem. And me. And Bill Gates. And the military industrial complex, and the illegal immigrant using an ER for routine medical care, and how we choose to fund schools, and which countries get foreign aid, etc. It's all part of the problem. At the risk of repeating myself, I'll say it again: "The very reason we have gridlock is that everyone wants someone else to sacrifice, not themselves. And then they spend all their time rationalizing why that's the correct or moral thing to do."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

BTW, the proposals I put forward would not cause anyone to "sacrifice" anything. The wealthy could pay their fair share with zero sacrifice-- they'd still be wealthy even after paying the taxes-- that's not a "sacrifice."

jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

In other words, you're not willing to sacrifice a penny while rationalizing why it's appropriate for the entire burden to fall on other people. How's that for paraphrasing?

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Your proposal doesn't have low taxes - you've increased them in a variety of ways.

So you don't have "both".

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