Now, I’ve said from the beginning that the ultimate solution to our deficit problem must be balanced.
We’ve all heard President Obama’s theme of a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction mixing revenue increases with budget cuts. Despite his insistence for this balanced approach during the budget negotiations he failed to get Republicans to budge and ended up “caving,” as many liberals phrase it, on the revenue side of the ledger. Yet, President Obama continues to insist revenues be a part of the ultimate solution and is calling for the special Joint Congressional Committee of 12 tasked with coming up with more cuts in round two to adopt the issue.
Yet, Speaker Boehner keeps insisting the committee will be hamstrung by design raising taxes.
It’s easy enough to write this off as typical political posturing. However, I dug a bit and Paul Ryan writing on the Speaker’s blog explains how it is structurally difficult, if not impossible, for the committee to raise taxes, especially in the context President Obama often uses of reversing the Bush tax cut extension on the ‘wealthy.’
Ryan’s explanation is about as interesting a read as the Manhattan phone directory so I’ll sum up my understanding of it for you: Because the Bush tax cuts are set to expire they can’t be used by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for scoring any longer term deficit reduction deal. What clouds the issue and the main reason for him bloviating is the administration seems to think alternative methods of scoring are allowed so it can get tax hikes through the back door. Both Speaker Boehner and Paul Ryan are insisting CBO scoring is the only allowed method of scoring any deficit reduction package.
There’s been a lot of talk of closing loopholes and such to raise revenues so the Bush tax cuts aren’t the only game in town but they are the biggest revenue game in town for the Democrats.
Of course, this may be a moot point because early indications are the Republican selections for the special Joint Congressional Committee will all be anti-tax hardliners while on the Democrats side at least Harry Reid is showing ideological weakness in his picks. Philisophically I think most people would like to see open-minded folks on any Congressional committee to reach a reasonable, bi-partisan agreement but in this toxic, polorized political environment it’s a recipe for one side being steam-rolled.