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The “fiscal cliff” and the hypocrisy of Washington’s insiders

There was an interesting debate on Capitol Hill this week, one that exposed better than most the rank hypocrisy of many of Washington’s insiders – especially those who like the idea of trading alleged spending cuts for tax increases.

The debate is centered on the so-called “fiscal cliff’ that will arrive in January when certain temporary tax reductions expire and the automatic spending cuts agreed to when the debt ceiling was raised a year ago are to take place.

As The Washington Post noted, “The situation is driven by the failure last fall of a specially empowered congressional ‘supercommittee’ that had been tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in budget savings as part of a broader deal cut last August. With the supercommittee’s failure, the law requires the first wave of 10 years’ worth of automatic spending cuts to kick in Jan. 1 — at the same time that the income tax cuts approved during the George W. Bush administration, along with a host of other tax benefits, are set to expire.”

This, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would lead to a recession.

In other words, cutting spending and raising taxes amounts to a “fiscal cliff” that will do unimagined harm to the economy, national defense, the interests of the poor and disadvantaged – pick your Washington sacred cow and it was assured to have at least one defender in this week’s debate.

But isn’t cutting spending and raising taxes the compromise or “middle way” beloved of those who constantly decry the excessive partisanship of Washington – especially in the face of conservative demands to cure the deficit through spending cuts alone?

So, if we can’t cut spending and raise taxes without causing a recession, what can we do to rein-in the out-of-control spending that the same Congressional Budget Office has termed “unsustainable?”

Eric CantorIf we understood this week’s debate correctly, the answer from Washington’s insider business-as-usual elite is “nothing,” because keeping things as they are now is certainly the only option that appeared to have anything close to a majority behind it.

That Republicans who got suckered into making last summer’s debt ceiling deal now have buyer’s remorse is understandable, but the answer isn’t to do nothing.

Washington’s political elite know the spending can’t continue, yet neither the Republican nor the Democratic House and Senate leaders, and certainly not President Obama, have proposed a way to end this slow national suicide.

The deals floating around the smoke filled rooms of Capitol Hill are intended to get politicians past the next election. None of them actually solves the spending, deficit and debt crisis. 

Capitol Hill Republican establishment leaders are making a major blunder if they think Tea Party and grassroots conservative activists don’t understand the difference between a deal to get incumbents past the next election and a solution to the spending crisis.

The solution, as we’ve been saying for the past year, is for House Republicans to throw-off the business-as-usual hypocrisy of the Republican establishment and to join with conservatives to pass the Cut, Cap and Balance plan – a viable route to re-establishing federal fiscal sanity.

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Yes, but to get a BBA we need amendment reform first

Cut, Cap and Balance is the only solution, but it is impossible to see the big government advocates in Congress ever falling below one-third so that we can get the two thirds vote required for a real Balanced Budget Amendment that is not full of loopholes.  And a strong BBA is the only sure, long-term solution.  Therefore, we also need to focus on amendment reform so that the states can initiate and enact a strong BBA without having to go through either Congress or the unworkable and dangerous mechanism of a convention.  See http://www.timleyrenewed.com