The fiscal cliff media is a total joke. By far the vast majority of the discussion has revolved around taxes, when by far the biggest part of the problem is spending. The latter has hardly been discussed, and some of our most conservative tea-party caucus congressmen have said they will not even keep their word on the lesser aspect.
Moreover, by far the greatest spending problem is with Social Security and Medicare. I lose track of the increasing trillions in liability. This has not even entered the discussion at all. It should be the first thing addressed.
(It has already been addressed by the Social Security administration: you will not get what you have been promised. As of now, it’s officially only 78 percent. This will drop even more in the future.)
The spending “cuts” being discussed refer to the “sequestration”: automatic spending “cuts” predetermined by the “super-committee” last fall.
These “cuts” are routinely called draconian by the media. We are routinely reminded of either the $2.4 trillion number (original), or the more recent $500 billion (variously applied) for these cuts. “Draconian!” Then it is almost whispered: “over ten years.” [product id="1354" align="right" size="small"]
These cuts are the biggest part of the total joke. First, they are “spending cuts” only in the sense that a legislative lawyer can appreciate. They are not reductions in spending. They are specifically “deficit reductions.” This means they are mere decreases in the amount of increase already assumed. The result is not a spending cut, but a smaller spending increase which is popularly called a “cut” by the media, politicians, and other zombies.
Instead of going further into debt by one amount, they are agreeing to go further into debt by a slightly smaller amount.
How much smaller? This is where the 10 years comes into play.
Secondly, when spread over ten years, these “reductions” are minimal in the big picture. Even the largest number—$2.4 trillion—over ten years means only $240 billion per year maximum cuts. Smaller numbers are now being discussed, but even this seemingly massive number amounts to only 6.8 percent of Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion in spending for 2013.
Even if it were all a real cut in total spending, is 7 percent draconian? If so, then we have no hope of recovering any fiscal sanity or limiting the size and scope of the federal government apart from a true cataclysm.
Obama’s projected deficit for 2013 is $977 billion. Whether that includes the $240b in “deficit reductions” or not doesn’t matter much. It’s still nowhere close either way. We’re still going further into debt by hundreds of billions.
Obama’s budget plan then projects similar deficits through 2022. No end in sight.
An analogy to this scenario would be someone on a senseless shopping spree deciding to put only $9,000 on their credit card, instead of $11,400. . . .
. . . . And then doing the same thing every year for the next decade.[product id="1301" align="left" size="small"]
Third, in order to get these “cuts,” Congress had to agree to raise the debt ceiling. This is like our senseless shopper maxing out that card year after year, then calling in to raise their credit limit.
The spending cuts that are talked about are thus an absolute joke. They’re not cuts, they’re not significant, and they won’t be for at least ten more years.
Spending is without question the bigger part of the problem. But since even touching the size of the increasing deficit is considered draconian by everyone in the game, you can understand how far out of touch with reality this legislative-admin-media complex is.
The biggest disappointment
What this means is that the tax question is a less important part of this equation. Not that it’s not important, but it has less importance than the spending side in this context.
But since our Representatives can’t even keep the pledge they made on the lesser aspect of this problem, what does that say about the moral fiber of those congressmen we trust most? That they can’t make good on the smallest, clearest matter is perhaps the most disappointing, discouraging thing happening here.
Yes, much has been noted about the Boehners, Chamblisses, and even the Amashes who are willing to “raise revenues” even though they signed a pledge not to raise taxes. Many slough if off a necessary compromise, or as not really breaking the pledge. (I suppose I’ll be hearing again soon about the “lesser of two evils.”)
Let’s get something straight: there are no loopholes or compromises allowed in this pledge. Let’s read it:
I, _______________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____ district of the state of__________, and to the American people that I will:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
There is no wiggle room here in regard to either 1) tax rates, or 2) monkeying with deductions unless such is offset by lowering rates.
In short, anyone who took this pledge is bound thereby to remain at least revenue neutral in regards to taxation.
The facts: 219 congressmen and 39 senators signed it for this congress. The list includes Boehner, Chambliss, Amash, Rubio, McCain and many others who are now stating that “revenue increases” are on the table, even possibly rate hikes.
What part of “any and all” don’t these people understand?
If these men keep their word, Obama will own the tax hikes, the deficits, and the economic fallout—all of which will happen.
If these men don’t keep their word, Obama will own them, and they will own a share of the tax hikes, deficits, and economic fallout—all of which will happen anyway.
Course of Action
I can’t tell you how to vote or whom to vote for. But I can say this. All of these people who put their signature to such a clear and staunch pledge knew exactly what they were doing when they signed it. They knew the potential fallout from any future pickle they could get into if their pledged devotion should be put to the test. They are now taking that test.
They knew there would be a high likelihood of an economic showdown over debts, deficits, spending, and taxation at some time in their upcoming congress. It is now here.
[product id="1518" align="right" size="small"]None of them can plead ignorance on this case.
If they sell out, it will be on them and no one else, and no number of excuses can absolve them of their own moral failure. They will have consciously lied to the people they represent, to whom they were pledged and promised on this matter.
Read the list. If your representative is on it and does not keep their pledge in so easy a case, then come 2014, 2016, or whenever, no one should have to tell you at least how not to vote. That person has proven they cannot be trusted under pressure. They have become representatives of Obama and an out-of-control spending Congress, not of you.
And then, make the next guys sign a no-more-spending pledge, too.