ALAN NUNNELEE: A responsible budget
(R) Rep. Alan Nunnelee Mississippi’s First District Report from the Tupelo MS Daily Journal 3/ 17/2013:
The American people expect Washington to fix its spending addiction. Balancing the budget in a responsible way is the foundation of the House Republican budget introduced this week. Our proposal is a practical solution to a very difficult problem.
The Senate Democrats introduced their budget this week as well. By their own admission, it calls for more in tax increases than it does in spending cuts and never balances. The Senate breaking its four-year streak of not even trying to pass a budget is a positive development. The American people can decide if they prefer our responsible plan or the Democrats’ business-as-usual approach.
During Budget Committee markup in the House this week, I sat and watched my friends on the other side of the aisle repeatedly propose to replace various spending cuts included in our budget plan with tax increases. We voted down their efforts to raise taxes becausewith government tax revenue at an all-time high, it never has been clearer Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.
The good news is we have begun to achieve some success cutting what is known asdiscretionary spending. I sit on the Appropriations Committee, responsible for the one-third of the federal budget that is discretionary. We have cut this side of the ledger 10 percent since Republicans took control of the House. It is a step in the right direction, but not near enough to get us to balance.
The bad news is mandatory spending is rising at an unsustainable rate and driving ournation’s debt crisis. This type of spending takes up two-thirds of the budget and includes vital programs like Medicare and Social Security. Welfare programs such as food stamps and Medicaid also fall into this category. [More GOP bullying tactics aimed at the elderly and the more needy individuals and families that are a part of the American Public.]
. The people who keep the books for these programs tell us Medicare will be insolventin just 12 years and Social Security in 20 if we do nothing. In other words, anybody advocating for the status quo is advocating for bankruptcy. [More Republican fear-mongering about Medicare/Social Security.]
Washington has to get its spending problem under control, not, as the president suggested, for its own sake, but because we want to pass on a strong economy full of opportunity to our children and grandchildren. Just like borrowing more money to spend today doesn’t create real wealth for a family; neither does it create a growing, durable national economy. The bill comes due eventually, and quality of life will decline until spending gets back in line with income. House Republicans have taken a step in the right direction this week by offering a responsible plan to balance the budget, strengthen the economy, and protect the most vulnerable among us.[And, thus, leaving no apologies for having been the Political Party that set the fiscal debacle in motion to begin with, and refusing to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and refusing to slash their Favorite Republican Government Corporate-Welfare Programs that are a main source for driving the economy into bankruptcy.]
With this report from Rep. Nunnelee comes this article from Salon the next day: “GOP: We’ve Been Lying Along” 3/18/13 Salon
Boehner’s admission that we don’t really have a debt crisis reveals his party’s ulterior, program-cutting motives:
America owes this debt of gratitude to Boehner after he finally came clean on yesterday’s edition of ABC’s “This Week” and admitted that “we do not have an immediate debt crisis.” (His admission was followed up by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who quickly echoed much the same sentiment on CBS’ “Face the Nation”).
“As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, “Even if we do run deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II” and “it will also be substantially less than, say, debt in several European countries in the mid- to late 1990s.” It is also lower than the 80 percent of GDP level that many economists say starts to put countries in a precarious position. Additionally, citing Congressional Budget Office data, theCenter for American Progress notes that the long-term debt outlook is only dire because the projections simply assume without question that “future Congresses will enact huge new deficit-increasing tax cuts and spending hikes.”
“The debt outlook is bad (but) we’re not looking at something inconceivable, impossible to deal with,” writes Krugman. “We’re looking at debt levels that a number of advanced countries, the US included, have had in the past, and dealt with.”
But, of course, we aren’t having a sober and measured discussion about such pragmatic solutions. Instead, the national conversation about the budget is dominated by debt demagogues with ulterior motives. Taking a page out of the shock doctrine playbook that says every crisis is an opportunity, these alarmists have sought to create the perception of an immediate crisis in order to quickly manufacture opportunities to legislate their otherwise politically impossible agenda items.
In practice, that means Wall Streeters and conservative ideologues citing the supposedly imminent crisis to successfully nudge the political establishment to endorse cuts to Social Security, even though the program has almost nothing to do with the debt crisis. It also means a GOP budget that targets most of its cuts at the social programs that the poor and middle-class most rely on (this, at the same time most of these same alleged budget hawks supported an extension of most of the deficit-expanding Bush tax cuts; decry any cuts to the defense budget; and either outright oppose a single-payer system or support the Obama healthcare law that while certainly expanding coverage, nonetheless buttresses the private health insurance industry and, thus, arguably makes such a single-payer system more out of reach).
From Boehner to Ryan to the Bowles-Simpson tandem to an unending parade of television pundits, the last year has been marked by the most prominent political voices ignoring the more prudent way forward, and instead claiming that these shock doctrine prescriptions — i.e., Social Security/Medicare cuts, social program cuts, etc. — are all required. And not just required, but required immediately, because of the supposed urgency of the debt crisis.
Using that supposed urgency as a rationale to create fiscal cliffs, sequestration battles and debt ceiling crises, their talking points have lately assumed a similar tenor to that of the old Thatcherites’ “There Is No Alternative” mantra, the idea being that because the emergency is supposedly so imminent, there is simply no other way forward than the conservative neoliberal path of profligacy for the rich (tax cuts, continued corporate subsidies, etc.) and austerity for everyone else.
But suddenly, thanks to yesterday’s declarations by Boehner and Ryan, the charade’s most sacred lie has been exposed. In acknowledging that “we do not have an immediate debt crisis,” GOP leaders are admitting that there is, in fact, an alternative. They are also admitting that their longtime claims to the contrary were ends-justify-the-means tactics to manufacture an unnecessary panic —…”