There’s not a whole lot of difference between the proposals from Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The amount of new cuts is about the same, though the Senate proposal looks bigger because it (properly) includes savings from the war drawdowns in its total savings.
But there is one other key difference which speaks to the overall Republican strategy to shackle our government so it no longer can build our infrastructure, invest in advanced research, generate green energy, alleviate poverty and educate the next generation.
The Boehner bill would only increase the debt limit for a few months, and would not allow another one without passage of an additional $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, with no evidence that the House Republicans would include any new revenue to reach that target.
In other words, we would have another manufactured crisis in a matter of months, like we are suffering now, holding the economy hostage yet again, to force even more savage cuts.
And who is to say that Republicans won’t keep doing it over and over again?
While most Americans look at this process and see irresponsible conservatives putting America’s financial credibility at risk, top Republicans are bragging about taking the economy hostage. One of Boehner’s allies within the GOP caucus told NPR yesterday: ” Frankly, I think it’s one of the good things that’s come out of this. We’ll never have a debt ceiling increase again without serious efforts to deal with the long term spending.”
No mention of “serious efforts” to deal with our unfair tax system riven with tax breaks for the wealthiest, despite its major role in the expansion of our long-term deficits.
And that’s the point.
In the last decade, conservatives pursued a “starve the beast” strategy, passing tax cuts to starve the government of revenue, in hopes of forcing a budget crisis that would require the gutting of active government.
Conservatives were frustrated they couldn’t finish the job before the Bush presidency was over, but now they see an opening to do it under President Obama.
That is the ultimate threat of the Boehner plan: putting a plan in place to ensure crisis after crisis, year after year, making our government less and less functional, while protecting millionaires and billionaires from contributing their fair share.
Hopefully, the Boehner bill will be either be sunk today by the deranged faction of the Republican party, or pass by such a bare partisan margin that it clearly cannot be the basis of a final bipartisan compromise.