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If the debt limit deal struck between President Obama and Congress passes, it will be the first financial step forward our government has taken in over a decade. No, strike that. The deal is actually not a step forward. In reality, it's just the absence of another step backward. We've taken so many backward steps lately that anything else seems like progress. Walking backwards seems almost normal in these upside-down times.
We will be cutting $2.7 trillion in future spending for a $2.7 increase in the debt ceiling. That's basically a fiscal wash, and the "spending cuts" are mostly just reductions in future spending increases. We still have a long way to go in order to reach fiscal responsibility. We still have a massive deficit to deal with. No fiscal responsibility can be achieved unless we first balance the federal budget. Until we get there, we are still walking backwards.
Still, there is a lot to like about this deal. First and foremost, it eliminates the crisis that would be sparked by not raising the debt ceiling. Second, and still foremost, a message has been sent. That message comes from the Tea Party, and it says unfettered government deficits, debt, and spending (and the endless tax increases that must eventually accompany them) will no longer be tolerated. The Tea Party knows what lots of D.C. politicos seem to have forgotten, which is,...you never reach your destination by walking backwards. Walking backwards in not progress. It's regression.
All credit for this debt deal, and I mean 100%, goes to the Tea Party. Without the Tea Party, it would have been business as usual on Capitol Hill, and the debt ceiling would have been raised with no offsetting cuts, as President Obama proposed in April, and as has been done so many times before by both Democrats and Republicans. Raising the debt ceiling had become so routine that it made a mockery of the very reason we have a statutory debt ceiling. The reason we implemented a debt ceiling in the first place was to ensure that Congress would be responsible in issuing debt. Obviously, with a $14.5 trillion federal debt and a $1.6 trillion deficit this year, along with $100 trillion or so in unfunded future entitlement liabilities, no such responsibility has been occurring. Congress rated an epic FAIL for many years. The only brief respite came when the GOP took over Congress from 1994-2000 during the Clinton presidency, and fiscal responsibility was all the rage for a brief shining moment or two. Then, after Clinton, we regressed again into fiscal irresponsibility, where we've remained ever since. Bush-era Republicans in Congress made a mockery of the word "conservative", and the debt started piling up. That led to the Democrats taking over Congress in 2007, and ushered in the era of trillion dollar deficits. A liberal Democrats' idea of fiscal responsibility is to spend, spend, and spend some more, and then raise taxes, raise taxes, and finally...raise taxes. I don't know if it will ever occur to Democrats where such an irresponsible philosophy leads, and if you don't know what I mean by this, then you must be a Democrat. Frankly, I'm tired of explaining it. If any of you reading this don't understand why taking exorbitant amounts of money out of the private sector and handing it over to the government is like biting off your own hand because your finger hurts, I can't help you. You've been infected by the liberal disease. I no longer expect to hear anything rational from you. I'm working on a cure, but thus far, liberalitis has been resistant to all forms of logic and reason. It's an insidious virus.
To people infected with liberalitis, everything turns upside down. The sane becomes insane to them. That's why we have top Democrats sounding as crazy as any psychotic, drug-addicted streetperson. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls a balanced budget amendment "extremist" and "bizarre". House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refers to a balanced budget amendment as going to "the dark side". The two leading Democrats in Congress are on record saying balanced budgets are evil and radical. Obviously, these are sick people. I'd feel sorry for them, as I do for anyone who suffers from a mental illness, were it not for the fact that they are our country's leaders. Reid and Pelosi are in a position to spread the disease of liberalitis to the masses. They're like Typhoid Mary. They must be isolated from the general public to stave off contagion.
Fortunately for us, President Obama seems not to suffer from full-blown liberalitis. He exhibits many of the symptoms, but at the end of the day, he can be reasoned with, as this debt limit deal attests. Thank goodness for that. Obama, like Clinton before him, is willing to be pragmatic and make a deal when he must.
I urge Democrats and Republicans alike to agree to this deal. To my Tea Party brothers and sisters, I say this - I know you're not getting everything you want, but this is the best deal you can get right now under the circumstances. You only have significant influence in one branch of Congress, and you've already changed the debate in Washington D.C. significantly. Accept the deal, declare victory, and renew the fight down the road. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.
I suppose I should include some details of the deal:
A senior Democrat aide said the deal finally came together Sunday when Boehner "blinked" and gave up his final demands to exempt the Pentagon from cuts next year. A GOP aide pointed out however that the final deal mandates that $5 billion of the total $10 billion in cuts in 2012 and 2013 must come from "security" spending, and this can include foreign aid, a fact that will give the House GOP wiggle room in finding savings.
Total discretionary spending in fiscal 2012 and 2013 will be capped at $1.043 trillion and $1.047 trillion, respectively, $7 billion and $3 billion below current levels. The House Appropriations Committee has been operating on the assumption that the number for 2012 is $1.019 trillion, a $31 billion cut from current levels. For all the worries on the left about deep cuts to government spending now, the actual bite up front is much less than the GOP has been pushing.
The Speaker's presentation touts the similarities between the final deal and his own House-passed debt limit proposal. In a statement sure to infuriate Democrats, the presentation says that the joint committee will operate on a budget baseline that "effectively make[s] it impossible ... to increase taxes."
Democrats have pressed for raising Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy.
The White House, in its own fact sheet, vowed to use the threat of allowing the Bush-era tax rates on the wealthy to expire to pressure the joint committee to back revenue-raising tax reform.
The hurdle built into the deal meant to block the joint committee from raising revenue may be the hardest aspect for liberals to swallow.
The Congressional Budget Office's "current law baseline" assumes that the Bush-era tax rates expire and that the Alternative Minimum Tax is not patched, resulting in $3.5 trillion in extra revenue. A GOP aide explained that in using this baseline, the commission would have to raise taxes by more than $3.5 trillion in order for the extra amount to even count as "deficit reduction."
The Speaker told members that "it is his goal" to have the vote on Monday and then break for the five-week August recess, but leaders are waiting on the CBO score first. The text of the agreement will be available Monday morning.
I don't have the full details of the bill yet.
On the expiring Bush tax cuts, I can tell you this, and it's important. When the CBO scored Obama's ten-year baseline budget, the CBO assumed that the Bush tax cuts would expire in 2013, because the CBO scores bills based upon current law. Even with all the Bush tax cuts expiring, the CBO estimated that Obama's ten-year budget would add $9.8 trillion to the debt. I'm telling you this because those suffering from liberalitis are pretending that the Bush tax cuts are the main driver of future debt. As you can see, that is a flat-out lie. Obama is on pace to accumulate $10 trillion in new debt over a decade with all the Bush tax cuts rescinded. The fight of the Tea Party is vital for the future viability of this country.