Washington is boiling, and it’s not just the temperature. Dueling debt ceiling proposals, presidential veto threats, and heated rhetoric between and among parties have political tempers flaring, while the President’s rhetoric is seemingly designed to bring the markets to a full-throttle meltdown.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R–OH) debt-ceiling plan sparked a conservative revolt after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that his plan would not deliver the cuts he was shooting for. So now Boehner is racing to redo his debt ceiling package.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate…zippo.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) has introduced a rival plan, which would, according to CBO, reduce the deficit by “about $2.2 trillion” if future Congresses adhere to all of its spending caps and other policy changes. That’s a mighty big if.
This would be in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion, which flies in the face of the widespread agreement that the nation’s borrowing should increase by only as much as Washington is willing to cut. His plan also relies extensively on gutting the military. Non-war discretionary spending cuts are puny over the next two years and don’t even reach $1 trillion 10 years out. The remainder of deficit reduction—$375 billion—comes from the interest savings arising from these projected cuts.
In exchange for this $2.2 trillion in highly dubious cuts, Reid would immediately increase the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion. The net effect: President Obama gets an extra half-trillion dollars of the people’s credit card to play with.
Reid’s plan also calls for a joint select committee to deliver additional “deficit reduction” measures, and of course in the Senate, that would be even more likely to result in tax hikes than in the House. And Reid takes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—the real cause of medium- and longer-term deficits—off the table for the transformational reforms they so desperately require. But rather than put his plan up for a vote, Reid has opted instead to stir the cauldron of D.C. vitriol to new heights of excess. Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY) said that if Republicans “refuse this offer, it simply means they want to default.” What did Harry Reid say about Boehner’s plan?” Democrats will not vote for it. Democrats will not vote for it. Democrats will not vote for it. It’s dead on arrival in the Senate, if they get it out of the House.”
Yep, it’s hot ‘round here.
This is a sad departure from the decorum this great chamber once stood for. James Madison is said to have described this august body as “the great anchor” of government. So let’s consider Harry Reid’s senatorial leadership moments on our nation’s appalling budget and debt predicament. The Senate:
- Has not passed a budget in nearly 900 days,
- Rejected the House-passed 2012 budget by 40–57,
- Rejected the Obama budget 97–0,
- Abdicated the hard decision on the House’s first plan debt ceiling plan—Cut, Cap and Balance—and voted against letting the legislation come to the floor for a vote.
This summer’s hottest blockbuster? Harry Reid and his Chamber of No.