Democrats beat Republicans in the fiscal cliff standoff by pressuring them to agree to raise taxes on high-income earners with no accompanying spending cuts. They argued, persuasively to the American people, that the revenue shortfall the federal government faced required such a move to make up the difference.
Raising taxes on the upper 2% of income earners isn’t nearly enough to plug our budget deficit, to say nothing of our long-term debt. The only way to do so is to immediately enact drastic, painful, across-the-board entitlement spending cuts that slap us with the reality of our historically dire situation.
Naturally Democrats prefer to keep spending levels right where they are and raise more taxes.
Naïve political observers assumed that, once House Republicans had caved on the fiscal cliff, they would have some leverage in getting Democrats to agree to spending cuts in the upcoming battle over raising the federal debt limit. Republicans, the thinking went, could insist that, since they had agreed to raise $620 billion in revenue from taxes, Democrats would have to give in and accept cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. House Speaker John Boehner in particular seeks a dollar-for-dollar spending cut-to-borrowing limit ratio.
But no—Democrats continue to display their congenital intransigence to cutting a single dollar from a single program anywhere, anyhow, anytime, except for the military.
We’ve come to the point in the evolution of the Democratic Party where there’s truly, fundamentally, literally nothing they’re willing to consider cutting. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Niente.
Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you.
Former House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi, when recently asked whether her party would consider enacting spending cuts on Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, responded that we had already done so… by passing Obamacare.
As CBS News reports: “Asked if Democrats are ready to significantly reform entitlement programs to address the deficit, Pelosi said, ‘We already have,’ pointing to the Affordable Care Act’s $716 billion in Medicare provider cuts.’”
Everyone, including Pelosi, knows these cuts are fake, in that they: (1) limit Medicare’s growth rather than shrinking Medicare, (2) target insurance companies and hospitals, who will simply pass the costs on to consumers, and (3) won’t ever take place, because they’re slated to unfold over the next 10 years, and will be demolished by subsequent Congresses, as such future-situated cuts always are.
If Democrats are unwilling to shrink entitlement programs, how about altering the age at which people are eligible for them? Off the table. Pelosi “replied with a quick ‘no’ when asked whether she supports raising the Medicare eligibility age… She also seemed disinclined to consider any cost of living adjustment that could reduce Social Security benefit payments, saying, ‘I do not think we should do anything to Social Security that reduces benefits to the beneficiaries…’”
So no cuts, no alterations, no adjustments. Nothing that “reduces benefits to the beneficiaries,” which means nothing.
How about other non-military domestic spending programs? Nope. As the L.A. Times reports, “The president said he was open to seeking spending cuts generally as part of an effort to reduce the country’s deficit, but he stressed that such reductions can be made ‘without shortchanging things like education, job training, research and technology, all of which are critical to our prosperity in a 21st century economy.’”
So no cuts to “education, job training, research and technology,” or anything that is “critical to our prosperity in a 21st century economy,” which Democrats will argue is everything.
And on and on: Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray wants to preserve every penny of Head Start. Mother Jones wants to maintain federal funding for food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, extended unemployment benefits, education grants and college loans, housing assistance, community health centers, heating bill payments, and milk for babies. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and White House spokesman Jay Carney cheerfully agree that Social Security does not contribute to our federal deficit, because apparently it’s free.
It’s finally starting to dawn on Republicans that Democrats have no intention of ever cutting spending. As the Wall Street Journal notes in an interview with the Speaker on the fiscal cliff talks, “What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: ‘At one point several weeks ago,’ Mr. Boehner says, ‘the president said to me, “We don’t have a spending problem…”’ Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment… he replied… ‘Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.’ He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: ‘I’m getting tired of hearing you say that…’”
(Meanwhile, the shaggy, autistic homeless man named Paul Krugman argues that we could end the recession, if only we just wildly increased federal spending over the next two years to levels that would make Obama blush.)
Want to know how dire Democrats’ spending addiction has become? It has even overpowered their abiding compulsion for raising taxes.
When Democrats agreed to the sequestration deal in 2011, they calculated that Republicans’ aversion to the deep military cuts that were to accompany the deal’s domestic cuts would give them a strong leverage point later on. But inside sources suggest that Democrats now actually fear sequestration more than the GOP. Democrats appear willing to forego tax increases for the sake of not having a single dollar cut from their beloved domestic programs.
Democrats love weakening the military and adore raising taxes, but both flirtations are now trumped by their giddy, rosy-cheeked infatuation with runaway domestic spending.
- Pelosi: “Not enough” revenue in “fiscal cliff” deal (cbsnews.com)
- At this rate, it won’t be long before ‘Plan B’ seems like the good old days for John Boehner (dailykos.com)
- Boehner backing off debt limit threat: ‘Not the ultimate leverage’ (dailykos.com)
- McConnell Takes Taxes Off Table in Debt Limit Negotiations (bloomberg.com)
- Pelosi: Defend Medicare, Social Security (upi.com)