Reasonable People

Dana Milbank dissects the Super Committee in yesterday’s column:

Reasonable people on all sides know that tackling the nation’s long-term debt problems will require both an increase in taxes and cuts to entitlement programs. But just weeks from the committee’s deadline, Republicans continue to resist new tax revenues, and Democrats dance around the need for entitlement cuts.

And so, as the 12 stuntmen on the committee assembled for their hearing this week, it was to discuss something different: the relatively small slice of the budget known as “discretionary spending.” Even at this late stage, their comments — in public, at least — suggest they are less interested in agreeing than in making points.

“There has to be balance,” said Democrat co-chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“Our entitlement spending is roughly 60 percent of the budget and growing,” countered Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling (Texas).

“One of our major problems is the drop in revenues,” asserted Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).

“The need to rein in mandatory spending is obviously one of the priorities that we need to address,” countered Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

“We need to do it, I believe, in a balanced way,” posited Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“Reasonable people” know that tax increases (on the wealthy) must happen and that “entitlement programs” must be cut. Democrats on the Super-Committee agree. The unreasonable Republicans will only agree to cut programs, no tax hikes.

Here’s my question, one more time: what if the Republicans at some time decide to be “reasonable” too? Suppose they agree to raise some taxes on millionaires in exchange for all these cuts to the safety net? Are we supposed to be happy about that?

Just asking.

*Assuming you agree that it’s important to cut the deficit right in the middle of an epic economic downturn, which I don’t, keep in mind that simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire — in other words, going back to the tax rates in effect in 2001 — will cut the deficit in half. Soooo, are these cuts to the safety net (which will impact people like this) really all that “reasonable?”

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