The Debt Ceiling Charade

The so-called debate over the debt ceiling is going nowhere because the elected officials involved have zero experience in problem solving at any level. The only reason this debt ceiling increase hasn’t been rubber stamped like the last 100 times is that the Republican House is attempting to use it as a bargaining chip. With the Democrats in control of the Senate and Obama in the White House they have very little leverage and seemingly no clue as to how to use what they have.

Part of the problem is that Washington politicians know virtually nothing about negotiating. The result of almost every impasse is a “Washington Compromise”, just one more oxymoron from our capital. As every married man knows, a real compromise requires a tradeoff, some sort of sacrifice. You want to play golf this Saturday? Fine, but you’ll be spending Sunday working on that “honey do” list. You gotta give a little to get a little.

In the Washington alternative universe both sides get everything they want. But the laws of mathematics are not so easily suspended. Who does the giving? The tax payer of course. It is because of this habitual way of doing things that the debt keeps mounting.

It is all made worse due to the static scoring that assumes higher tax rates produce higher revenue. History shows us otherwise. The lowering of tax rates under Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush II all were followed by increased revenue. Revenues fall during recessions-so let’s stop having them.

The GOP is trying to appear tough right now because they know this is why they won so big in the 2010 mid-terms. They have a mandate to cut spending without raising tax rates. Obama and the Democrats received the same message. Their solution? Stop passing budgets and try to stall until after the 2012 elections.

What should the Republican Party do?

First, get its act together. They are rudderless. There should be a clear plan with a chosen leader to promote it. Plan it before you publicize it. Instead, on the night we pass the “Cut, Cap and Balance” the “Gang of Six” announces a conflicting plan. I am a fan of Tom Coburn. He is one of the few decent people in politics-but he should have his head examined. Why would anyone join a “gang” that included Dick Durbin?

They need to make this a 2012 issue. It goes like this:

We have presented a plan for moving forward. In acknowledgement that the economy is still showing signs of weakness, particularly in the employment sector, we refuse to consider a tax hike. Since government spending requires diverting money from the private sector and prevents growth we are proposing serious spending cuts-not just lower levels of increase. By necessity this includes serious entitlement reform.

If the Democrats in the Senate refuse to work with us-or if the President vetoes this common sense plan-we will have no choice but to pass a series of small bumps in the debt ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government. The American people have made it clear that the growth of government must stop. We agree and we’re willing to take that fight to the polls in 2012.

Pat Duggan

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