News that Gets My Goat..
Well, the business headline said it this way; “Market suffers a supercommittee sell-off.” The DJIA fell 250 points Monday after the Congressional supercommittee failed to reach agreement on taxes and budget cuts to reduce the deficit by one and a half trillion dollars over the next ten years.
This could be good news. If the Democrats fail to make a deal with the GOP, that means that they aren’t getting rolled. One of the Republican demands was to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. That’s a hell of a way to balance the books.
So that was their whole contribution, an idea that would reduce revenues. In return the Democrats were asked to approve cuts to Social Security and Medicare. So the one side wanted to extend benefits to their base, who would reward them with campaign contributions, while the other would cut benefits to folks who would then vote them out of office. Some compromise.
Lacking a deal, the budget is slated to be cut across the board by ten percent starting in 2013. Hawks in Congress are already talking about bringing legislation to exempt Defense spending from these cuts. President Obama has already promised to veto such a bill. Good; as Willie Sutton said, that’s where the money is. Decimating every budget category is a terrible move as the country struggles through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but it is an evenhanded way to get accounts in order without new revenues.
We have national elections coming up next year, before this ax falls. Will the electorate look beyond the acute discomfort and see that one party is offering more of what made us sick in the first place? Will we see through the hired bullshit and mandate more than half-measures and phony compromise? When FDR won forty-six states in 1936 he took 61% of the popular vote, even though the other 39% were the people who owned all the newspapers and radio stations. It will be interesting to see how loudly money talks in the wake of Citizens United v FEC.
The decision will ultimately be in the hands of American voters, who, if they don’t decide that next year’s elections are really about God, guns, gays, or who should win American Idle, can make a choice between tax cuts for millionaires and austerity for the rest of us, or a progressive tax structure with continued support for popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare.