On Sunday, both Democrats and Republicans were preparing for the worse — a non-deal on the supercommittee’s task to find $1.2 trillion in debt savings. But considering what the Democrats have in mind for a deal, not having a deal is certainly the best outcome.
On Meet the Press, supercommittee member Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.): “It’s been very hard so far. And I think it’s illustrated by the last offer made by Republicans. We have not been able to do entitlement reform or tax reform. And so Republicans said, ‘Well, let’s see if we can salvage something here. Let’s take the areas where we’ve at least had some agreement in our meetings, put those together. It adds up to about $640 billion that we could actually save in increased costs or, in some cases, derive some revenue from asset sales and that sort of thing.’ Our Democratic friends said no to that offer because it didn’t raise taxes.”
That was the case whether there was a big deal of the sort Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) proposed or whether there was a proposal for a mini-deal that would at least limit the amount subject to sequestration. A top House Republican aide put it this way: “I think the $643 billion offer Speaker Boehner made was as unobjectionable as humanely possible — all stuff from Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin or the president’s budget, plus the corporate jets loophole they’re always wailing about. If they can’t say ‘yes’ to that, I worry they have decided not to say ‘yes’ to anything — short of the job-killing trillion-dollar tax hike that we won’t ever give them.” That seems to be very much the case.
Remember we’ve already passed the point where Republicans were refusing to increase revenue. The Toomey proposal (not unlike the “grand bargain” put together this summer) suggested tax reform that would lower rates, close loopholes and use some of the additional revenue to pay down the debt. The Democrats never responded with anything other than insistence on massive tax hikes (that wouldn’t begin to solve the debt problem that is driven by domestic discretionary and entitlement spending). As Kyl put it: “If you look at the Democrats’ position, it was, ‘We have to raise taxes, we have to pass this jobs bill, which is another almost half a trillion dollars. And we’re not excited about entitlement reform.’ The only real breakthrough here, and the word ‘breakthrough’ was used by my colleague, Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, was the Republican offer to actually increase the amount of revenues through the tax code, which would largely fall on the upper two brackets of taxpayers. That was a big breakthrough for Republicans.”
And in all of this where was President Obama? Nowhere. He’s in Asia. This is Congress’s problem, he’s decided. That’s par for the course. In our most pressing domestic issue the president has been continually and disgracefully absent. He’s never presented — other than Obamacare’s massive cuts in Medicare — his plan for entitlement reform. He’s never set out his own tax reform plan. The 2012 Republican contenders have never had a better argument for why a change in the White House is needed to address the looming fiscal crisis.