Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Budget warning: March report

The GOP  House is finding it hard to write a budget. The triggers weren't scary enough to force Dems and Repubs on the super committee to compromise, and they may not be scary enough to get a majority of the GOP representatives to agree either.

Some Repubs want to spare the Defense department and have the cuts come from the big entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security). Others fear voter backlash if they touch entitlements, so they want cuts to come per the debt ceiling deal, which gives plentiful ass-coverage. These automatic cuts would hit defense and non-defense discretionary spending. There many even be a few wildcard Repubs who want something else entirely, such as Ron Paul with his $1 trillion in cuts.

Extrapolating from the payroll tax cut extension, I think I'm ready to predict capitulation to the debt ceiling triggers. My guess is that's the preference of the same group that surrendered on the payroll tax.

But it would be more enjoyable if they can't compromise, and some competing visions of cuts get aired. It would be even better if the Dems offered some budgets, but they're too wary to do that. Dems with discipline are no fun at all!

Update 3/15/12. From a less muddled article, it appears that the GOP split is over how far below the agreed budget limit to go. And the Dems are complaining that a lack of agreement could lead to a shutdown showdown. According to last August agreement, that was not an option for 2012.


Couves said...

Ron Paul is the only candidate who is actually proposing to cut the deficit:


...and Paul's one trillion in cuts doesn’t even touch entitlements. Rand Paul has proposed 500 billion, while exempting entitlements AND defense, just to prove what could be done.

I think you're right, we'll kick the can down the road some more and once everyone is done jockeying for power, we'll end up with a neutered Bowles-Simpson. I don't think it will be enough to spur the total restructuring our economy needs, but it will at least keep us away from the precipice.

Anonymous said...

Dems without discipline are out of office. THey can't afford to risk any political capital because the GOP pounces on any political advantage without mercy.

So when is there ever the incentive to do the right thing? And what is that right thing now?

1st -- Admit that the Bush and GOP-sponsored tax cuts for the wealthy were an unsustainable mistake which is primarily responsible for the growth in both the deficit and the debt.

2nd -- Admit that the Bush and GOP-sponsored tax cuts for the middle class where designed a political cover to get item #1, and also aren't sustainable at the current level of entitlement benefits.

3rd -- Admit that the Offense Department budget is hugely bloated and that military and wars of choice have to end.

4th -- Admit that the current structure of Medicare is unsustainable and that means-testing is necessary, just as it is for Medicaid. Oh, and that spending huge amounts in the last weeks of life is both immoral and makes it impossible to care for those with a lot longer to live. (Good luck with that one!!)

5th -- Admit that Social Security is unsustainable because people live so much longer than they used to.

Since the GOP launched the free-lucnh-nuclear-arms-race -- first with Reagan and then with Bush II (Bush I was reasonable and got whalloped for his honesty), and the Dems got whalloped for trying to reverse it in 1994 -- unless the GOP gives in first (or at least the voters make them) we are stuck with the free-lunch-nuclear-arms-race for as long as we have a Republic.

And that goes for Ron Paul and his backers, too. He's all for admitting 3,4 and 5, but they should come after 1 & 2 in a democracy.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, I agree, or 'admit' if you prefer, that the Democrats are better keeping quiet because the GOP will demagogue what they say.

On specific points, a few quibbles: 1. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are a major contributor to the deficit, but increased spending during the Bush admin is also a substantial contributor.
5.Yes, but what do we do? We have to offer an alternative.

As for the budget being a free lunch arms race until the end of the republic, no, I'm not that pessimistic. The free lunch period is ongoing, but we will wise up or be forced to. We won't turn into Russia--a failed democracy... probably.

Couves said...


What's the "free lunch-nuclear arms race" the dems tried to stop in 1994?

6. Bailouts!

Anastasios said...

I tend to agree that we are going to get a lot of posturing, a lot of huffing and puffing, talk of a shutdown (we are getting that now) ... and then the can will get kicked until after the election. The really interesting time will come once the votes are cast and the lame duck Congress has to face the expiration of the Bush tax cuts AND the sequestration. Probably they will squirm out of it, but if the election greatly empowers one side and/or embitters the other ... we will see.