Monday, November 4, 2013

GOP Platform: No New Compromises

As budget talks begin to unfold, multiple Representatives and Senators are saying a so called "Grand Bargain," is off the table in the unfolding budget negotiations. In theory, the Grand Bargain would cut entitlements for revenue increases. In practice, it would effectively rob the American people of money they paid into a system and maybe, though most likely not, raise revenue slightly on high income earners. Why is the Grand Bargain off the table? Because it requires very small concessions from a hardline GOP representation in the form of closing tax loopholes. Not raising tax rates, just closing loopholes.

Instead, because of the current war within the Republican Party, hopes are simply that something will pass to have the government not close again in January and not default in February. There is, however, no real clarity on what can pass. Many Republicans still hold tighter to anti-tax pinkie promises than they do to reality. This would include blocking Senate Democratic proposed legislation to close tax-loopholes that give unfair advantages to wealthy corporations. When asked about closing these loopholes, a house Republican aide said, "Revenues are a nonstarter in the House." That's right. Treating the wealthy the same as everyone else in this country by closing loopholes is a nonstarter in the House.

Let it be said the war in the GOP is not about fiscal issues. In the mind of the social issue extremists in the Tea Party, the establishment Republicans are traitors and RINOs. However, they are both in lockstep on fiscal issues.

Now I agree that taxes are unpleasant. Sure, I'd love to have the entirety of my paycheck to do with as I please. But there are other things I want to have as well. Roads, police officers, schools, social security when I retire, Medicare assuming I survive that long, etc. And there are things taxes pay for that I'm not a fan of; for example, killing Paktistani children with drone strikes is something I think we can probably cut from the budget. That's why we have Congress. They are elected by people to decide what we will pay for, and what we won't pay for. And when necessary, change taxes to ensure we can pay for it.

However, current Republicans simply won't do this. And I don't mean the Tea Party, I mean all Republicans in Congress. They have become a party of absolutism. "No new taxes" was once a campaign pledge that was eventually tempered with reality in 1990 when taxes were raised, alongside spending cuts, to reduce the national debt. Yet now, in 2013, Republicans are definitively saying that they will take spending cuts, but any and all revenue increases, even closing unfair and costly loopholes, will die in the house.

The Republicans have come out of what may be one of the worst political image crises of the century so far reeling, but that doesn't mean they are ready to compromise. Don't be fooled: they are extreme as ever.

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