The United States came precariously close to defaulting on its debts before a deal was reached back in August, and reports by Democrats and Republicans are that the Super Committee tasked with finding ways to reduce the deficit is making some progress. President Obama urged the leaders of the Committee to continue working to achieve a deal before the November 23rd deadline and as usual, the sticking point is revenue. Republicans allegedly have made small concessions to avoid a “trigger” that automatically cuts budgets by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. President Obama said Congress should not undo the consequences that were agreed to when the super committee was created in the August debt deal, but there are two Republicans who are threatening to do just that if a deal is not reached.
Republicans have offered to raise revenue by revising the tax code that would limit some deductions and subsidies while also lowering the top tax rate to 28 percent. The Republicans are still clinging to their no tax increase mantra. Their proposal calls for revising the individual tax code by limiting the value of itemized deductions like breaks for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, but Republicans did offer to raise taxes by $60 billion on corporations by eliminating tax breaks for corporate jets and special interests that President Obama suggested. However, that still lowers the wealthy’s taxes and may burden middle class homeowners if their mortgage interest deductions are limited. Republicans object to Democratic plans that include cutting the deficit by $2.3 trillion by raising $1 trillion in new taxes and cutting entitlement spending.
The consequence of not reaching a deal automatically triggers budget cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next decade, and half of the cuts will come from the Pentagon. There are two Republicans who abhor the thought of cutting one penny from the defense budget, and they suggested the cuts should be repealed. It is a recurring scenario for Republicans who are in repeal frenzy when they fail to get their way despite the defense cuts were agreed to in good faith as a means to encourage cooperation and compromise between members of the super committee to reach an equitable deal that includes spending cuts and revenue increases.
The two Republican Senators, John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham, are part of a larger effort to protect the defense budget from the trigger mechanism that automatically cuts defense spending by $600 billion over 10 years. McCain said “My intent is that sequestration on national defense will not take place. We’ll do everything we can to prevent the trigger from being implemented.” McCain, a warmonger and strong advocate for giving more Americans’ tax dollars to the Pentagon when more than 15% of Americans are living below the poverty level said he would introduce a measure to undo the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was part of the agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Graham went further saying, “I hope the super committee can do its job, but we can’t just live on hope around here. If the committee fails, I am not going to allow the triggers to be pulled that would shoot the Defense Department in the head.”
Graham continued that he will introduce an alternative to the previous agreed on trigger, “something where the whole country shares in the failure of the super committee, not just the Defense Department.” Apparently Graham has been unconscious for the past two years or else he is just ignoring that 98% of the country has shared all the sacrifices while the wealthy and Defense Department has been spared giving up anything. For the record, America spends more on the military than the next 15 countries combined at a time when the deficit is rising in part because of the unfunded and unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If America cuts its defense budget by $600 billion over ten years, it will still dwarf the next 15 countries combined.
Republicans have a decision to make and reneging on the debt deal is not an acceptable choice. If McCain and Graham are so worried about their precious defense budget, instead of repealing the previous deal, they can apply pressure on Republicans to increase taxes on the wealthy by a substantial amount, or accept the consequences of belonging to a political party that favors the wealthy over the nation’s defense, poor, elderly, children, students, unemployed, and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The safe bet is Republicans will refuse to raise taxes and obstruct implementation of the trigger that Republicans agreed to in August. After all, they are chronic liars and willing to go to any lengths to give the wealthy and corporations bigger tax breaks, as well as continue spending borrowed money on wars and the Pentagon.
Republicans claim they are working with Democrats on the super committee to reach the previously agreed on approach to reducing the deficit, but until they get serious about increasing revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy as a balanced approach nothing will get accomplished except the trigger that cuts Defense spending by $600 billion. However, as McCain and Graham have promised, the Republicans will balk at the previous debt deal and repeal the agreement in order to preserve tax cuts for the 1% and save the Defense budget in its present form. It is incumbent on Democrats to hold the line because the American people support raising taxes on the wealthy, and they are sick and tired of giving up their tax dollars to the Defense Department so Republican warmongers can kill Muslims in the Middle East while America’s children go to bed hungry and the wealthy laugh all the way to the bank.