The Vice President was deployed for the weekly address this week, and talked about extension of the middle class tax cuts and the extension of unemployment benefits. He failed to mention any prospective deal on those subjects with Congressional Republicans. Pretty much straight pablum on budget and taxes.
The Republican address this week was by Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, talking about the need to “spend less, tax less, and borrow less.” I have included it here as one of the best examples of budgetary doublespeak available today. (Until the next Republican call for balanced budgets and massive tax cuts occurs). This type of nonsense would be hilarious if it were not so serious. Let us look at his “claims”.
1) “these leaders” (current Democratic Leadership) should not “raise taxes” and risk another recession. He claims that there is a plan to impose a “major tax hike” on the American people. In a vote that just occurred in the House of Representatives it was the Republicans in Congress who voted against giving tax relief to the vast majority of American taxpayers, not Democrats. A short couple of months ago incoming Speaker Boehner indicated that he would vote for tax relief for middle America even if it did not offer relief for the upper two percent. Now he calls it “chicken crap”.
2) “Our mounting debts pose a clear and present danger to our future”. Yes they do Senator. So what are the solutions offered to stop this “clear and present danger”? Lets get right to the big money: Earmark reform. Nice jab because many Senate Democrats did not embrace this reform. Many Republicans also oppose it, but in any case it is a half of one percent of total spending, not even a drop in the bucket. But it is important symbolically, and I agree it should be enacted. So after the symbolism what else did the spokesman for the Republicans talk about? ” A Line Item Veto for the President”. Again something that is needed and that will help, but it does not even scratch the surface, and has been opposed by appropriators from both parties. Of course Senator Kirk hit upon a treasure chest of money when his third suggestion, cutting Congressional budgets, was included. This gem would likely bring in a whopping one tenth of one percent. Of course he left the best for last.
3) In order to get “real reductions” in spending the Republicans will form a commission. In maybe the most hilarious part of this inanity, the Senator indicated that another “commission on federal spending” resembling the Reagan era Grace Commission be formed, with the ability to submit reductions to Congress that would have to be voted up or down. He failed to address the question of whether he or his colleagues supported the Deficit Commission report, whether he and his colleagues supported ANY specific reductions in spending besides the nonsense he put forward, or whether he and his colleagues are committed to take immediate steps to formulate a budget balancing regimen at any time. He failed to mention how he would pay for any of the tax cuts he advocates for, including $750 billion for top earners over the next ten years. He closed by bemoaning the fact that interest on the national debt may outstrip defense spending by 2016, but continues to advocate policies that will actually drive up interest costs by adding to the debt. Yesterday I speculated that the New York Times editorial board was drinking some pretty strong stuff. This guy must be at the same bar, because if this is what is going to pass as Republican budgetary policy we are in for a steep decline. Positively Orwellian.