Monday, November 21, 2011

Super-committee fails, as expected...Pledgers hold U.S. hostage

By Ted Barrett, Kate Bolduan DeidreWalsh, from CNN website, November 21 2011                                                                                    
Washington (CNN) -- Members of the congressional "super committee" -- the bipartisan panel tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next decade -- will likely announce Monday that they have failed, according to both Democratic and Republican aides.

"No decisions or agreement has been reached concerning any announcement or how this will end," one senior Democratic aide said. "But, yes, the likely outcome is no agreement will be reached."
Markets dropped as news spread of the panel's apparent failure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had declined over 300 points by noon Monday.
Legally, a majority of the 12-member committee has until midnight Wednesday to reach an agreement, but any deal needs to be announced for legislative reasons by the end of Monday.
The failure of the committee -- evenly split between six Democrats and six Republicans -- sets in motion an alternative timetable for $1.2 trillion in spending reductions starting in January 2013. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are unhappy with the nature of the fallback plan, which cuts evenly from domestic and defense programs.
The 'Super Committee' Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, veterans' benefits and other politically sensitive programs are spared the budget ax.
Pressure has already started to build to undo a number of cuts included in the fallback plan, which was a product of last summer's debt-ceiling agreement. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and key Republicans argue that the military will be undermined by excessive reductions to the Pentagon budget.
Anyone who happened to watch the CBS program, 60 Minutes last evening, will be aware that 279 Republican members of both the House and Senate have signed the "PLEDGE" from the Americans for Tax Reform, the non-profit foundation, thereby committing themselves to blocking any attempt at raising taxes.
All 6 of the Republican members of the super committee have signed the pledge.
Norquist acknowledges that anyone who has signed, and subsequently engages in any vote to raise taxes, will be effectively targetted in the next election, and can be virtually assured of electoral defeat. Neither the names of the donors to the foundation, nor the dollars available to it for its "work" is public, and will be unlikely to become public anytime soon.
Also on 60 Minutes, former Republican Senator from Nebraska, Alan Simpson, co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles Committee in 2010 to make recommendations on deficit reduction and debt reduction, expressed deep disdain for Norquist.
(From the CBS 60 Minutes website, November 21, 2011
Simpson gleefully accepts that he is one of Norquist's Republican rat heads in the Coke bottle. He got there by serving as co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, which recommended that some tax increases would be necessary to solve the nation's debt problem. Simpson has no use for Norquist.

Simpson: He may well be the most powerful man in America today. So if that's what he wants, he's got it. You know, he's -- megalomaniac, ego maniac, whatever you want to call him. If that's his goal, he's damn near there. He ought to run for president because that will be his platform: 'No taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.'
Simpson also wants to know where Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform, with its multimillion dollar budget gets its money.
Simpson: When you get this powerful, and he is, then it's, 'Where do you get your scratch, Grover?' Is it two people? Is it 10 million people? The American people demand to know where you get your money, Grover babe.
Now that we all know, as we suspected all along, that the Super Committee will fail in its task to find and recommend some $1.2 trillion in cuts to the U.S. Budget, and we also know that the Republicans on the committee have all taken the "Norquist PLEDGE," we also know that Norquist's foundation is holding both the signatories and the nation hostage to those pledges.
For example, the Bus tax cuts to the most wealth Americans, an important sticking point for the committee, will, on their own, disappear at the beginning of 2013, shortly after the next presidential election.
Failure to complete its task by the super committee will trigger automatic and equal cuts from the defence budget and the social assistance budgets.
It was the Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, also on 60 Minutes last evening, who expressed hope that the committee would accomplish its stated goals.
From the CBS 60 Minutes website, November 21, 2011
(Reporter Lara) Logan: And if you look at the U.S., what are you most worried about here?

Lagarde: Political bickering. Certainly I would hope that on a bi-partisan basis both Democrats and Republicans can come to terms in their Supercommittee, about the deficit objectives and the deficit cutting measures and the debt. And there is a degree of certainty that is so much needed for markets.
When the economy, and thereby the people, of the richest and most powerful nation on earth are both held hostage by the pre-adolescent, pledge-signing, ideologues known as the Tea Party, while the whole world watches, and their "guru" Norquist smugly (and extremely arrogantly) applauds from the sidelines, as "the most powerful man in America," in the words used by 60 Minutes' Steve Croft, then the whole world knows that the U.S. political system has not only ground to a halt, it has also blown four tires, the transmission and the engine. It is hardly worth sending the tow-truck to haul it into the scrap-yard.
During the campaign to remove the dictator from Libya, the U.S. "lead from behind"....
On the world stage, regarding the current debt/deficit crisis, the U.S. is no longer leading from anywhere.
Nor is the U.S. following in the more responsible and mature steps of both Greece and Italy, under the supervision of the I.M.F.
When investors sell off American stocks, and bond dealers raise the interest rates on U.S. bonds, and make the repayment of U.S. debt and deficit out of reach for the U.S. government, it will be the Tea Party and the Republican Party on whose shoulders will lie total responsibility, no matter how hard they attempt to paint the villain as the Democrats.
The hope, for the rest of the world, is that the U.S. voter can see past the mirage of deceit painted on the canvas of political discourse by those same Republicans, and decimate the Tea Party and the Republican candidate(s) for President, and send some moderate from both parties back to Washington to restore confidence and trust in the American government and its word.

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