theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Boehner is giving away the farm

House Speaker John Boehner has already conceded the biggest tax increase in history – $800 billion – in negotiations with Barack Obama and Democrats.

But now he is reportedly offering much more than that if the administration will agree to much deeper cuts to entitlement programs. There are several problems with this that illustrate, again, why it is totally unacceptable for Boehner to remain in the position as the most powerful Republican in Washington.

No. 1: The definition of "cuts" in Washington: Most Americans think of budget cuts as actual money not spent. That is the not the definition Washington uses. Each and every year, spending for entitlements and many other budget line items increases automatically and substantially. When government programs don't grow as much as they would normally grow, that is considered a "cut" in Washington. Under that definition, even when the budget is growing, in Washingtonese, the politicians say they are "cutting" spending.

No. 2: The only cuts that are really meaningful are those proposed and enacted in the current session of Congress. Most of the "cuts" talked about in these negotiations are phantom cuts Congress will try to impose on future Congresses – something they don't have the authority and enforcement power to do. That means to have any real impact, the cuts have to be made between January 2013 and January 2015. You have to front load them. Believe me, Obama and the Democrats will never do that.

No. 3: Boehner needs to remove from the table all tax increases, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, because they are all destructive to the recovery of the economy. Why? Because these tax increases will not result in the additional revenues expected. John F. Kennedy knew this. Ronald Reagan knew this. That's why they both cut taxes and actually raised revenue. Tax cuts grow the economy and raise revenue. They do not create more revenue for the government.

No. 4: By making these destructive concessions, Boehner is raising the expectations of Democrats, not lowering them. This is always a bad thing when you are dealing with people who actually think government spending drive the economy. That's the essence of Keynesian economics – and the Democrats are all Keynesians.

No. 5: Boehner doesn't realize that he is in the driver's seat and holds in his hands four aces: All spending bills must, under the Constitution, begin in the House he controls; the debt limit cannot be raised without the assent of the House he controls; if the debt limit is not raised, the budget must be cut by $1.2 trillion, which would be the best thing those of us who believe in constitutionally limited government could ever hope to see happen; if there is no agreement with the House on spending, cuts far deeper than anything Boehner will be able to extract from Obama will automatically take place.

In other words, Boehner has to be the worst negotiator in the history of Washington. He is giving away the farm, the barn, the livestock, the house, the seeds, the fertilizer and the tractor every time he opens his mouth.

The best thing House Republicans can do to stop this kind of appeasement and accommodation that is laying the groundwork for a continued recession or worse is to dump Boehner as speaker – and fast.

The best thing you can do to stop this insanity is to push House Republicans to take a tougher stand on borrowing and spending – something they have all the power to do.

There is growing dissatisfaction, I would even say "disgust," with Boehner's antics within the Republican ranks. They need to hear from you now if there is going to be a palace revolt.

That's where the
"No More Red Ink" campaign comes in. There is growing support among tea-party activists in and out of Congress to get rid of Boehner and to freeze the debt limit – denying Obama the power to spend recklessly, immorally, habitually, destructively and without restraint.

Republicans alone have the power to do this. So why make concessions? There is no better deal to be found and no compromise in the cards that tops a freeze in borrowing and the deep cuts that will be triggered by law as a result.

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