“All options are on the table” say many GOP lawmakers. When they then walked out of the debt talk meeting last week it drew the ire of some. The question to many was, “How can all options seriously be on the table when you barely take a seat long enough to consider them? My fellow editor, Jeff, posted his thoughts on that last week.
Looking at the numbers, there is simply no way we can “grow” our way out of this problem. And spending cuts alone will not, I repeat will not, solve our long term debt problems. Spending cuts are needed, but so are tax increases. The adult conversation should be on how we go about doing this right. We can’t cut spending (with an axe under the Ryan plan) and raise taxes suddenly. We need to phase both in over time (short, medium and long term), allowing the economy to recover first. We need a short term fix and many long term-realistic-solutions. But we’re not getting it right now.
I don’t want to say that these reactions are a rush to judgment anymore than I want to defend politicians whose first priority is to do what is politically expedient.
But this looks like a case of calling one’s bluff. If the Democrats were only interested in both taxes and the debt limit, as opposed to real cuts, then the Republican lawmakers would hardly be doing their job if they didn’t protest. The Republican’s want dollar-for-dollar matching: cuts in dollars equal to taxes or debt ceiling increase. That to me is responsible.
To show they are serious, many lawmakers are willing to kick the sacred cow. The GOP for the first time in a long time is willing to cut the military budget which is currently at 5% of GDP (that’s actually up one percentage point since the Bush years). To give that number life, that’s roughly half of all military spending in the world. The Pentagon Budget was $693 Billion in 2010. In real dollars that’s more than we spent during the Cold War and Vietnam.
It is in no doubt that our military budget is bloated. But so is the entire system of discretionary spending. Also worth noting, military spending is an actual Constitutional obligation unlike most other programs footed by tax dollars. Nonetheless, our debt is troubling. Our economy is shaky and if all options are on the table then military spending is a must. Are the Democrats willing to slaughter some of their sacred cows in return?
The White House has offered nearly $1 trillion in cuts to domestic agencies over the next decade and $300 billion more from security agencies. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pressed for as much as $1.7 trillion in cuts. And he wanted an overall cap on spending that would leave the door open to slashing the entire sum from domestic programs — such as education, food safety, health research and criminal justice — when lawmakers draft spending bills next spring.”Everything is on the table,” Cantor said in an interview afterward. But the decision on how much to cut defense “belongs in the appropriations process.”
White House budget director Jack Lew objected, and the meeting grew heated. Democrats said they could never support a package that targets only social programs and extracts no pain from the military, big business or the wealthy.
Well that isn’t the case anymore. So Dems, now what?