Over The Fiscal Falls In A Presidential Barrel Pushed By Six Senators
The incredibly bad timing of the incredibly lame “Gang of Six” plan-that-isn’t-really-a-plan took the spotlight off of the president’s cuts-that-aren’t-really-cuts and launched another round of Manhattan-Beltway media elite stories trying to generate momentum for a massive tax hike with no spending reductions in 2012.
What is really astonishing is that any GOP senator urges support for a plan that isn’t written down and presented to the public for weeks of debate. Did they learn nothing from Obamacare? Do they really believe this is what voters demanded last fall?
I spoke with Senator Pat Toomey about the latest developments on today’s show. (The complete transcript is here.) One key exchange:
HH: All right, so are we going over the falls in a barrel on August 2nd, Pat Toomey?
PT: Well, first of all, I don’t think we go over the falls in a barrel if we don’t raise the debt limit. You know, I have argued repeatedly, if you look at the revenue that’s going to come in, a minimum of $173 billion dollars in tax revenue that will come in during the month of August, the total debt service obligation is $29 billion, a small fraction of that. There’s no reason in the world why we would default on our debt. And by the way, that’s enough money to also pay all Social Security benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, active duty military, and military vendors. So that leaves a lot out, and I acknowledge it’s very disruptive. We wouldn’t have any money for the Department of Education, or Commerce or Energy or Agriculture, and lots of other things that the government does, and that’s very disruptive. But it’s not a catastrophic default, and we ought to be, you know, I think we ought to keep that in mind, and we ought to insist on some real cuts in spending, and moving in the direction of a balanced budget. I don’t know at this point what can pass both the House and the Senate, and you know, there is some, I think there is some gravitational pull towards a short-term deal. But I just don’t understand why a short-term deal, when that expires several months from now, we’re going to be any more likely to solve this problem than we are today.
HH: Now Senator Toomey, after the break, I’m going to talk with the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, and he has been blasting Republicans as one would expect. My question to him, and I’m getting a crib note from you in this regard, is what exactly has the President really, truly, specifically offered to cut?
PT: Absolutely, I made this argument, and not only that, but let’s be honest. Every single issue that has had to do with fiscal policy, this President has been on the side of massive increases in spending. From the stimulus bill to the bailouts, to a budget resolution that was rejected by his supporters and got zero votes in the Senate, a CR battle where the dynamic we all know was John Boehner trying to cut spending, and President Obama resisting all cuts. I mean, there has been nothing about this administration that suggests any willingness to cut anything.
In the segment following Senator Toomey, Jonathan Chait got around to admitting that the president is proposing exactly zero cuts in spending for 2012, which is the key fact for the GOP to keep pounding home. The Democrats are simply not serious about reducing spending, and the president and his Democratic allies are forcing the country into the unchartered territory of a collision with the debt ceiling even though the GOP has offered a plan to both raise the debt ceiling and balance the budget.
If any fiscal meltdown follows, it will be because of the president’s choices and political brinksmanship, and no amount of spin will disguise that result this year or next, even though the MSM will print and broadcast thousands of stories and plenty of loaded poll questions offering a contrary view.
The president may or may not be bluffing, but he is gambling with the lives and money of every American not in the super-wealthy class to which he will belong within weeks of leaving the White House.
A financial panic did occur on President Bush’s watch, but he didn’t seek it and regretted that it happened even as he struggled to end it.
President Obama is not be intentionally engineering just such a panic –his ego no doubt compels him to believe he is the master of events– but his recklessness in allowing its approach is off the charts, as is the indifference of the Gang of Six to voter’s clear direction last fall.