Sunday, September 25, 2011
Why Flotown Knows The 'Supercommittee' Won't Be So Super.
The Ex-Whipper and Eleven Other Reasons Give Us No Reason to See A Budget Deal Ahead..
Like wa always seem to say, Washington has a bad habit for avoiding the tough decisions, and taking the easy way out. They did it earlier this year, when they passed a BS $1.5 trillion budget cut over the next decade. If it sounds like a lot of cutting, keep in mind that this year's deficit is $1.2 trillion. So, they essentially did about 13% of the business needed to be done... Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
But, fear not, for there is a little-known codicile in the Faber constitution (OK, it's pretty well-known) that formed the Budget Select Supercommittee to create a bi-partisan solution to cut even more from the fuure budgets. A Gang of Twelve: Six Senators, Six Congressmen. Six Republicans, Six Democrats. All entrusted with working together to hack and chop fairly, so the automatic cuts don't take effect.
Yeah, it does sound pie in the sky and far fetched to us as well. For those of us who live in the 6th District of South Carolina, we KNOW nothing will happen in the next 60 days.. Why? Because one of those members is our own Whipmaster, Jim Clyburn.
We all know that Clyburn is a budget hawk and expert, with his decades of private business experience, and years of serving on every financial and business-related committee in Congress. Oh wait, he hasn't done any of that. No, he's there for two reasons...
First off, he's there for himself. You see, the lobbyists now know that instead of paying off every Committee Chair and Whip (which are probably 100), they now only need to coddle 12 people of the 535 members of Congress. Clyburn has already gotten flack for doing a ton of fundraising as all of this has gone on to fill his coffers. Well, he DOES need all the money he can get to fight off those tough challenges every 2 years....
But, the main reason he is there is that both he and Barack Obama - who calls him The Sage, which really is polispeak for 'Old' - is to ensure that NOTHING happens to the Sacred Cows of Medicare, Social Security and other programs that are going to sink the US economy eventually. Clyburn and Obama are both on the same page as far as their vision of America, and Cly and the Family Stone will make sure almost no cuts occur, and that taxes are installed wherever possible.
He's not our only reason for doubts about a deal. We're not very happy with either side's choices. The other House Dems? Xavier Becerra is another super-liberal, who fought every compromise brought by the Bowles-Simpson panel. Chris Van Hollen could be better, but his job is essentially to make sure Democrats are elected. Bipartisanism isn't exactly a prereqisite for that gig... The Senate Dems are Patty Murray, who has the same gig as Van Hollen, only in the other chamber, John Kerry, and Max Baucus. Could be worse, but not great.
As bad as the Dems choices were, the Republicans loaded their side with guys (literally ALL guys) just as rigid on tax reform. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is a Tea Party-type, no taxes, no how stiff who will not help the cause of compromise. Rob Portman (R-OH) has the OMB experience to break out the paring knife and make the tough decisions, but his tenure in the Bush Administratio will not make him friends. John Kyl (R-Az) is another big wig in the GOP who didn't get there by being nice wih the other side. Maybe the fact he's quitting soon will soften him up, but we doubt it.
On the House side, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx , which says it all) leads the team, along with Michigan committee chairs Dave Camp (Ways and Means) and Fred Upton (Energy). Hensarling has been the GOP floor hammer for a decade now, and Camp opposed any tax hikes on Bowles-Simpson. Upton is more of a wildcard, but has been a thorn in the side of Obama lately. Not much daylight for compromise there either...
No, we're not big fans of tax hikes, but if we get a 3-1 or better deal on cuts vs. tax hikes, then make the deal. My economic guru, Joe the CPA, says the megarich know they have been getting sweetheart deals the past decade, and they can and would pay it. Everyone talks about payinr 'their fair share'... the best way to do it? A Flat Income Tax, two tiers, with one exemption tied to the poverty line. Simple. Fair. Will this every happen? Never....
More importantly, will the budget deal get done? Maybe, but we doubt it. Our hopes are for Baucus, Portman, Kyl and maybe Van Hollen to reach a deal. We know the likes of Clyburn will not get it done - he's just there to get Obama's way in the deal as much as possible. And of course, he's in it for himself.... But, we do look forward to Clyburn's reunion with John Kerry.
We STILL love this picture.... They look SO comfortable together!