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November 17, 2011 8:00 AM ‘We’re not changing this offer’

By Steve Benen

With the deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super-committee — less than a week away, it’s probably a good time to pause and appreciate what Republican members are demanding. Their debt-reduction offer is, as a practical matter, a negative plan.

I don’t mean that in the sense that the GOP proposal is off-putting; I mean it literally. Republicans have presented an offer that cuts roughly $895 billion in spending, adds $250 billion in revenue, and cuts taxes over the next 10 years by $3.7 trillion. The net savings for the country, if this plan were adopted, would be -$2.25 trillion.

While some in the media seem amazed that Republicans are willing to accept $250 billion in revenue, those same folks in the media seem unaware of the fact that the GOP plan to reduce the deficit actually adds to the deficit, only to have Republicans calling this a “concession.”

This is effectively aiming north and going south.

And with six days to go, is there any chance Republicans might suddenly become more reasonable? It seems exceedingly unlikely.

Republican super committee Co-Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) appeared to double-down today on his contention that the GOP will not consider more tax increases as part of any deal to reduce the deficit. […]

Seconds after he asserted that he would not summarily reject any proposals, Hensarling repeated, “We’re not changing this offer we have on the table.”

The comments to reporters came a day after Hensarling, the leading Republican on the super-committee, told CNBC that he opposes adding so much as a “penny” in additional revenue, and that his party has gone “as far as we feel we can go.”

In other words, the very best Republicans can do to reduce the debt is a plan to cut taxes that adds to the debt.

In fairness, I should probably note that Hensarling did signal at least some additional flexibility on tax revenue, but only if Democrats agree to partially privatize Medicare.

And people wonder why the negotiations aren’t going well.

Super-committee Democrats, meanwhile, came up with a third offer yesterday: $876 billion in spending cuts, $400 billion in new revenue, and investing $300 billion in unspent war money on job creation, for a total debt-reduction package of nearly $1.3 trillion over the next decade. Republicans immediately said the offer wasn’t close to good enough.

To reiterate a point from yesterday, when this panel fails next week, major news organizations will tell the public that “both sides” chose not to reach an agreement. Those reports will be wrong.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • c u n d gulag on November 17, 2011 8:08 AM:

    Every time I think about our "esteemed" Fourth Estate, I want to down a fifth of vodka.

    The MSM is about as useful as mammaries on a male bovine.

    Occupy MSM!

    Hell, never mind 'occupy,' INVADE!!!

  • Danp on November 17, 2011 8:08 AM:

    the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction better known as the super-committee

    I prefer the Joint Select Committee, as in don't bogart that ...

  • square1 on November 17, 2011 8:19 AM:

    At a certain point, one is incapable of concluding that the Democrats aren't either complicit or massively stupid.

    The Bush tax cuts are going to expire. Boom. There's your revenue right there.

    Obama insisted on a Grand Bargain during the debt-ceiling negotiations instead of a clean bill. (Yes, he repeatedly said that he preferred to address debt reduction at that point to a clean bill).

    If Obama had pushed for a clean bill, then there would be no super committee and there would be no automatic triggers that Obama is now saying are unacceptable. Democrats could have told the GOP to fuck off and watch the Bush tax cuts sunset if they don't want to deal.

    Instead, we now have yet another "hostage situation" where Democrats have
    "no choice" but to deal, or else the country will face horrible, horrible triggers...triggers that the Democrats willingly agreed to only a few short months ago.

  • martin on November 17, 2011 8:20 AM:

    Lucy. Football. Charlie Brown

    Good Grief.

  • delNorte on November 17, 2011 8:23 AM:

    Seems like Republicans are doing this because they have some confidence that Democrats will cave at the last minute, as has been often the case. So, at this point, a victory for the Democrats would simply be: do nothing. Let the commission fail, deal the the triggers, let the Bush tax cuts come to an end (again, by doing nothing), then take up tax reform after the next election.

    Let the CBO score this "do-nothing" approach and see how much it reduces the deficit.

  • DAY on November 17, 2011 8:26 AM:

    There is always "do nothing"- an event that all politicians are world class champions at- and let the Bush tax cuts expire. As PLANNED.

  • Bernard HP Gilroy on November 17, 2011 8:32 AM:

    @ DAY on November 17, 2011 8:26 AM:
    >> let the Bush tax cuts expire. As PLANNED.

    The expiration was written into the law, true. But I don't think anyone watching with their eyes open can really believe that anyone PLANNED on them expiring. The assumption was, "We can trick the CBO by putting in this artificial sunset, then Congress -- greedy or craven, your choice -- will swoop in at the last minute and extend them indefinitely". And since that was almost exactly what happened, it's fair to assume it was the plan.

  • chopin on November 17, 2011 8:49 AM:

    I never thought it would come to this. But in retrospect I wish Hillary Clinton were president and Howard Dean was VP. I'm quite certain that team would be more adapt at confrontation and message. Damn these Rethugs and their corporate handler message machine.

  • Kiweagle on November 17, 2011 8:59 AM:

    This is a perfect example of why I fervently believe that the Republican Party is actually dangerous and continues to demonstrably harm the country, if not the entire world. As Steve has said many times, this is what happens when ideology trumps reality and logic. As c u n d gulag so astutely points out, the MSM are just as culpable for the damage done simply because they report the news as though the Republicans are actually trying to provide a sensible alternative, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    And Chopin, I certainly love and admire Gov. Dean, and Hillary has done a wonderful job as Secretary of State, but you should really examine her background a little more carefully before wishing she were president instead of Obama - remember her fervent support for tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq?

  • johnny canuck on November 17, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Bernard HP Gilroy on November 17, 2011 8:32 AM:@ DAY on November 17, 2011 8:26 AM:
    >> let the Bush tax cuts expire. As PLANNED.

    The expiration was written into the law, true. But I don't think anyone watching with their eyes open can really believe that anyone PLANNED on them expiring. The assumption was, "We can trick the CBO by putting in this artificial sunset, then Congress -- greedy or craven, your choice -- will swoop in at the last minute and extend them indefinitely". And since that was almost exactly what happened, it's fair to assume it was the plan.

    I think this is exactly right. In Republicanland the Bush tax cuts are permanent. Therefore there extension is not a new event. Therefore the $250 billion offered in new revenue is not offset against the $3.8 trillion in Bush tax increases, because the Bush tax increases were never intended to come back.

  • sjw on November 17, 2011 9:12 AM:

    Failure is an option, and given the Democrats' penchant for folding -- their latest deal seems to indicate such a fold is indeed under way -- I'd say it's the best option.

  • square1 on November 17, 2011 9:17 AM:

    Actually, when the Bush tax cuts were passed, the rationale was that budget surpluses threatened to erase the entire debt. The tax cuts were a temporary solution to a temporary problem.

    Now we all know that Republicans want the cuts to be permanent. But that isn't the point. At the time the GOP argued that they were temporary. And if anyone in the White House actually gave a damn about letting the cuts sunset then they could take a day to dig up dozens and dozens of quotes from Republicans in 2000-2003 to give them cover for allowing the sunset to occur.

  • Kathryn on November 17, 2011 9:19 AM:

    How many Sunday shows will have Jeb Hensarling on to explain the generous Republican plan which was rejected by the Democrats, I'm going with three. How many corporate hosts will ask follow up questions about tax cuts for the elite that actually greatly increase deficit in GOP plan, zero sounds about right.

  • square1 on November 17, 2011 9:22 AM:

    Lol. Hillary/Dean! In what universe would Hillary pick Howard Dean as a running mate?

    If you are going to fantasize, why make such a lame fantasy? It's like fantasizing about winning the lottery...but just a scratch-off for $50k instead of Powerball.

  • stormskies on November 17, 2011 9:27 AM:

    Let's remember what happened on last Sunday on David "I am not a used corporate condom" Gregory's "Meet the Patsies" where he was 'interviewing' the DNC chairwomen as spluttered out about how the Repiglicans had in fact offered a plan to raise revenue that the Democrats rejected....without ever pointing out what Steve has done: that it would actually increase the deficit. This is the nature of the corporate media. Just asked the used condom why General Electric pays him 2 million a year.

  • chi res on November 17, 2011 10:02 AM:

    YEEEEEEE - AAAHHHHHHHH!!!

    roflmao

  • Josef K on November 17, 2011 11:16 AM:

    Isn't this how major powers collapse into anarchy and revolution?

  • Schtick on November 17, 2011 12:44 PM:

    When lil Dubya was pushing for that "little bit" of SSI to be privatized I had so many 'discussions' with people that said, "but it's only just a little bit". I now almost wish they would have done it. I just wonder how much everyone would have lost along with their pensions and 401Ks. I would so enjoy the crying and would be amused to see how they would blame the dimwit dems for it and not the tealiban.

  • Stephen Stralka on November 17, 2011 2:47 PM:

    Maybe they're hoping we're eventually get tired of having to cite George Orwell every time they open their mouths. War is peace, freedom is slavery, and increase is reduction.

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