The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Force House GOP to Go on the Record

Big headline at WaPo this mornng —

First, I’m trying to remember an election in my lifetime in which Republicans haven’t pledged to cut spending and balance the budget. I wasn’t sure about Eisenhower, who is the first Republican president I remember, so I looked him up. Yep, he did. And he sorta kinda balanced the budget for a brief time, making him the last Republican president to do so — with the help of a Democratic Congress — more than 60 years ago. So I can’t say that Republicans have never balanced the budget, but they haven’t done it since Eisenhower. Whether they ever managed it before Eisenhower, I don’t know.

We all remember, I’m sure, that the last time the budget was balanced was during the Bill Clinton administration. And George W. Bush absolutely could not stand it. He and the Republicans in Congress would not rest until they had screwed up federal finances by cutting taxes and sending everybody big tax rebates, because obviously if there was a balanced budget that meant the federal government was collecting too much in taxes! And then of course he started the stupid War on Terror, which transferred endless amounts of taxpayer dollars to the military-industrial complex and who knows where. Dubya, having been handed a balanced budget, left us with a $3.293 trillion budget deficit, it says here. Brilliant.

So Republicans need to forgive me if I don’t take their pledges to cut spending and balance the budget seriously. Of course, they do want to cut spending, especially benefits essential to ordinary people, but they aren’t going to balance any budgets without raising taxes and sending a beefed up IRS to collect it from those who hoard most of the money.

From the article in the screen grab:

Only weeks after taking control of the chamber, GOP lawmakers under new Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have rallied around firm pledges for austerity, insisting their efforts can improve the nation’s fiscal health. They have signaled they are willing to leverage the fight over the debt ceiling — and the threat of a fiscal doomsday — to seek major policy concessions from the Biden administration.

So far, the party has focused its attention on slimming down federal health care, education, science and labor programs, perhaps by billions of dollars. But some Republicans also have pitched a deeper examination of entitlements, which account for much of the government’s annual spending — and reflect some of the greatest looming fiscal challenges facing the United States.

In recent days, a group of GOP lawmakers has called for the creation of special panels that might recommend changes to Social Security and Medicare, which face genuine solvency issues that could result in benefit cuts within the next decade. Others in the party have resurfaced more detailed plans to cut costs, including by raising the Social Security retirement age to 70, targeting younger Americans who have yet to obtain federal benefits.

Yes, the old “we have to cut benefits now so we don’t have to cut them later” dodge.

House Republicans want to hold the debt ceiling hostage so that Democrats will bend to their demands to cut spending and balance the budget, but they can’t decide what those demands are. They can’t come up with a plan for cutting spending and balancing the budget, even as they stamp their feet and insist the debt ceiling not be raised, because reasons.

Catherine Rempell, not a great columnist, but she’s right here:

And even if Democrats wanted to pay a ransom for this hostage, it’s unclear that there’s any ransom Republicans would accept.

Republicans say they want lower deficits — in fact, they have pledged to balance the budget (that is, no deficit at all) within seven or 10 years. But they have not laid out any plausible mathematical path for arriving at that destination. They promise to cut “wastefulspending” … but can’t agree on what counts as “waste.”

This is similar to their pre-midterm promises to end inflation, even though none of them ever presented a plan for ending inflation. Have any of them said anything about inflation lately?

If I were in Congress, or the White House, I would very loudly demand that the Republicans come up with an agreed-upon, concrete plan for spending cuts and budget balancing that the Congressional Budget Office agrees will work, before there can be any negotiations. This plan will have to be specific; fantasy numbers about “waste and fraud” won’t be acceptable. I think it’s safe to assume they won’t be able to do it. In particular they won’t be able to do it without going on record that they plan to cut things that the American people don’t want cut.

10 thoughts on “Force House GOP to Go on the Record

  1. Perspective on how ridiculous the House Republican position is…

    Imagine a republican president, a republican senate and a 5 seat democratic hold on the house.  Imagine the house democrats insisting that they would not raise the debt ceiling unless they were given major increases on taxes for corporations and all earning more than $500K a year.  Imagine a republican president and republican senate leader agreeing to negotiate with the house dems.  Imagine the corporately owned media wondering loudly why the republicans are not negotiating with the dems.

    Ridiculous, isn't it?


  2. I'm a bit tired of listening to RepubliKKKLANs talk about cutting – or privatizing (the same as elimination, imo) Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    First off, the burden of subsidizing those EARNED BENEFIT* programs falls on low and middle class workers.

    Every, EVERY!, worker contributes 6.25% of their gross salary (at every job they hold) to FICA, up to $147,000 – as of last year, 2022.

    Every worker's employer also puts in 6.25%.

    Independent contractors are supposed to pay the full 12.5%.

    But every penny, every dollar, that a person gets over that $147,000 FICA limit, is theirs to keep.

    The sports stars, or movie and TV stars, to CEO's & CFO's, and hedge fund managers, making millions to billions of dollars a years, only pay FICA on their FIRST $147,000!

    Make EVERY BODY pay 6.25, or 12.5%, into FICA on EVERY PENNY they earn, and ALL OF THOSE PROGRAMS ARE SOLVENT as long as there are people around.

    Hell, we might even be able to have "Universal Income" become available!!!

    So yeah, House RepubliKKKLANs, "please proceed," and tell us how by "restructuring" "EARNED BENEFITS" programs, you'll balance the budget, and eliminate the deficit.


    *Notice I don't use the term "entitlement" programs.

    If you want to see an "entitlement" program, look to "legacy" programs at Ivy League universities, and other more expensive and highly rated schools.  THAT'S entitlement!

  3. Going OT for a sec: Today in GA, Fani Willis, the DA for Fulton County, asked the judge to keep the report from the Special Grand Jury secret for now because "decisions are imminent." The judge is expected to agree and the decision will be appealed by the media. 

    Also heard that the NY DA is proceeding against Trump with an investigation of the Stormy Daniels payoff that Cohen went to jail for. The DA inherited an investigation against Trump that was "days" away from a criminal indictment and he squashed it, resulting in two attorneys who worked in the office resigning in protest. One of those lawyers has written a book about the investigation and for lack of a better term, ratted out his former boss for killing the case. If true, the NY DA is in CYA mode and looking to make the book less credible by filing against Trump. 

  4. To quote Steve Benen from Maddowblog…

    "Remember, McCarthy hasn’t even filled out his ransom note, at least not yet. By all appearances, the California Republican — who realizes that putting the GOP’s unpopular demands on paper risks a political backlash — expects to sit down with the president, at which point the speaker will effectively say, “Tell me what you’ll give us to prevent a catastrophe, and I’ll let you know when I’m satisfied.”"

    (underline mine.)

    I agree with Biden refusing to negotiate under threat of Republicans crashing the economy. Taking the narrative AWAY from the GOP would not be that hard – if Democrats were to propose a plan that achieved the stated goals of balancing the budget. Raise taxes on the rich. Eliminate tax loopholes – all of them. Simplify the tax code to make cheating easy to spot and easy to prosecute. (We can actually lower corporate tax rates drastically and increase corporate tax revenues by untangling the tax code.)

    But take away the GOP narrative by submitting a proposal specific enough that CBO can score it and declare THAT is the starting point of negotiations to begin the day AFTER the GOP raises the debt ceiling. OR, when the GOP submits a plan specific enough for the CBO to score it, Biden and leaders from the House and Senate will sit down with the GOP delegation of the same size for negotiations. 

    I think Benen nailed it in his description – the GOP built a 'strategy' based on getting Biden to sit doen with them and offer to them, incrementally, the programs for the GOP to publicly sacrifice – like virgins on the stone altar. The GOP isn't sure how many virgins they can get, nor do they care, as long as they extract blood from Biden.

  5. The Rs enacted a big, pointless tax cut for the rich shortly after Trump won in 2016, and put it all on the national credit card. And I'm supposed to take them seriously now?

    • The last THREE times Republicans have taken over the Presidency from Democrats (Reagan 1981, GW Bush 2001, and Trump 2016), the FIRST major bill they have passed & signed has always been Tax Cuts for the Rich.  IMO, this indicates what their highest priority has been for the last several decades.

      And each time the result has been drastically worse yearly deficits and long-term debt.

      In 1992, a Ferengi (sorry, I can never remember his name) ran an independent Presidential campaign based solely on complaints about government debts.  He didn't win any electoral votes, but he probably siphoned off enough GOP votes to help Bill Clinton defeat GHW Bush.  The GOP realized that his message resonated – especially with their voters – and has used that message as a cudgel against Democrats ever since.

      The GOP machine knows that it's all for show; if they actually ever stopped deficit spending, the US economy would crash.  Though tehy would never admit it, they know that Keynes was right – that government deficits heat up the economy, and surpluses slow it down.  When they hold power, they increase deficits precisely because they want to crank up the economy (and also because many of their big donors get $Zillions from gov't contracts).  When Democrats are in charge, the GOP wants to slow down the economy so they can complain about it during the next election, so they scream about TEH DEFASITS!!!

      But the GOP has been lying about this all so well and so long that the new batch of Republicans in Congress actually believe it.  I hope destroy the GOP.

  6. The GQP is asking for something they know Biden will never agree to. That is the point. As I've said here before, McCarthy et-al don't give a rip about spending, deficits, etc. They only want power, they want lil-donnie back in office, the best way to achieve that is to destroy the economy on Biden's watch. This is what they always do when they are out of power remember McConnell: "I only want Obama to be a one term president"? They are willing to crash the economy to get Biden out, that is it,  I wish the democrats would start calling them out.

  7. In any discussion of the long-term fiscal health of Social Security and Medicare, the first issue should always be elimination of the cap on those taxes.

    In both cases, the first $100,000 or so (might be up to $150K now?) of wage/salary income is taxed, and anything over that is not taxed.  This is a blatantly regressive tax – people with higher incomes are taxed at a lower percentage.  Eliminate those caps, and both programs will be financially stable for decades, AND they will be more fair.

    Sadly, Democrats (other than Bernie) seem afraid to talk about this.

    • "Sadly, Democrats (other than Bernie) seem afraid to talk about this"

      So true, the GQP is relentless in their messaging, they have for years plastered the term "tax and spend" on democrats so any talk of raising the cap will be met with swift condemnation from the right and their enablers in our corporate media. In fact "messaging" is the only thing the GQP are good at, they have for years debased government, media, educational institutions and it has worked. What drives me crazy is that nobody in power or with a wide platform really wants to admit it. Our media and in fact most of our institutions have been corrupted by the Right.

  8. The Rs are running patchwork flags up to see if anyone musters a salute. So far only a few middle finger salutes recorded.  Yes, for most of this, the devil is in the details and there are no details.  It is inevitable that a loose coalition will need to prevail that will govern.  Adam Shiff's removal from his Intelligence committee assignment is an obvious act of revenge politics.  Shiff, in his emails, knew this was coming a month ago.  Some wiser Rs know this is a bad idea.

    McCarthy has a thin majority.  His wayward ducks are in control and will remain so until real governance is needed, and a working coalition is formed.  In the meantime, expect more crazy-quilt flags and salute them appropriately. 


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