In the postmortem of Republican’s surrender from their extremist hostage taking and ransom demands, people everywhere are analyzing what they think happened. One article contained glaring ideological framing. I agree with the foundational analysis of “Short-term debt deal won’t mask big barriers ahead” by Charles Babington of the Associated Press: yesterday’s deal didn’t address the underlying problems in D.C. But I do disagree with important parts that Charles uses as supporting evidence for his argument.
Republicans still adamantly oppose tax increases. Powerful interest groups and many Democrats still fiercely oppose cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
The first sentence is mostly true. Republicans oppose tax increases on the rich (witness the 2011 deal to lock in lower tax rates for people making $400,000 or more per year), but are more than happy to shift taxation onto the lower and middle class. But the second sentence is even more painful to read for its vapidity. What the heck are “powerful interest groups”? Does Charles know who opposes Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts the most? People that receive them! Want to “fix” Social Security? Lift the taxable income cap and Social Security is solvent for centuries. But that means “raising taxes” to pay for a social good. Does Charles seriously believe there are no “powerful interest groups” that oppose tax increases? No, but he and the AP sure expects readers to. And Republican supporters demonstrate that effort works. It’s hip to trash Social Security and Medicare in the D.C. cocktail circuit, but remains wickedly unpopular in the rest of the country.
In fact, most of the “powerful interest groups” on the right – the same ones that pushed for the partial government shutdown and threatened the US’s role as the safest investment on earth –
Also, as usual, there is no mention of the national deficit’s growth under Republican President George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan. But this fact is an obvious part of the Teabagger’s outrage at establishment Republicans. It also serves another purpose: if Republicans can generate enough outrage over national debt (that they themselves accumulated), they can demand Social Security and Medicare cuts while the obscenely wealthy get their taxes cut, even though Social Security doesn’t contribute one penny to the national debt they’re supposedly so concerned about.
The Simpson-Bowles plan remains widely praised nationwide, and largely ignored in Congress.
What?! Most of the nation doesn’t even know what the S-B plan is or what it would do. S-B remains widely praised in the same D.C. circles where it’s cool to want to take insurance programs away from the disadvantaged, and that’s it. Does Charles write that it’s Congress’ job to plan for and pass a budget every year? Because they haven’t done that on time since 1996 – a time when Republicans dominated the legislature. Instead, folks in D.C. turned to gangs as the answer – gangs of legislators trying to do the work the rest of their colleagues can’t be bothered to do.
Left out of this article, as usual, are the long list of concessions Democrats yielded all to willingly to Republicans in previous “negotiations” without acquiring Republican concessions. This latest “reset” is no different: sequestration cuts to the budget (which nobody likes but too many voted and signed for) remain in place. Those cuts reduce our national economic activity: reduced GDP of about 1%. At a time of historically low interest rates, the government could rebuild our decaying infrastructure for nearly at-cost, while putting millions of people back to work who want to work. We are squandering an immense opportunity that will not repeat itself. That infrastructure will be rebuilt, but today’s politicians want to make sure we pay more than we have to.
Charles and the AP mention none of this. Instead, it is “powerful interest groups” and crackpot plans. The framing by the D.C. crowd belittles the American people. It’s no wonder the media and Congress aren’t liked or trusted by a majority of Americans.