Fiscal Cliff — Who’s to Blame?

429px-Korea-Busan-Cliff-Bunji.jump-01by Rick David
Clash Daily Guest Contributor

As we head toward the fiscal cliff, the strife torn Republican Party is preparing to take the blame for the ensuing pain to be visited upon the general populace. More than one conservative talk show host has said that the GOP is in a no-win situation.

Currently, preventing a job killing tax hike in the House is the only leverage that Republicans have to force necessary spending cuts. Only idiots believe that tax increases on the rich without spending cuts can prevent economic doom. Unfortunately, as the last election has shown, the idiots just may be in the majority.

The media will continue to assist Obama in his class warfare, so should we blame the idiots, the liberals and the media for getting us into this position? Or, should Republicans look in the mirror? Pointing the finger at those committed to our destruction won’t help us in the future.

Who put the GOP in the position of having to accept tax increases on all taxpayers and massive cuts in defense spending or accepting tax increases on the “rich” (incomes over $250k are rich?!) and in the process admitting that Obama’s message that the Bush tax cuts for the “rich” are responsible for our debt?

The answer to that question goes back to the negotiations surrounding the raising of the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Here’s a short history lesson: The federal government was on track to exceed the statutory debt ceiling by August 2, 2011.There was disagreement as to the consequences of failing to pass a debt ceiling increase. Obama and the Democrats were predicting a catastrophe and threatened to shut down the government and stop all Social Security payments. (Does this sound familiar? Think 1995 and Bill Clinton vs. Newt Gingrich)

The Tea Party caucus in the Republican controlled House, newly emboldened by sweeping victories in the 2010 election, lobbied for steep spending cuts and or a balanced budget amendment in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Obama threatened to veto anything that wasn’t a “balanced” approach including tax increases. He lobbied for a “clean bill”, meaning an increase in the debt ceiling without strings attached. The Democrats refused to pass anything that included cuts in the major entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Just like today, they were at an impasse.

On July 31, 2011, Obama announced that the leaders of both parties had reached an agreement that would reduce the deficit and avoid default. The agreement established a Congressional Joint Select Committee that would produce debt reduction legislation by November 23, 2011, that would be immune from amendments or filibuster. The committee would have 6 members from each party. If Congress failed to produce a deficit reduction bill with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, the ceiling would still be raised by $1.2 trillion, but it would trigger across-the-board cuts (“sequestration”) of spending, equally split between defense and non-defense programs. The cuts would apply to mandatory and discretionary spending in the years 2013 to 2021 and be in an amount equal to the difference between $1.2 trillion and the amount of deficit reduction enacted from the joint committee. There were exemptions — across the board cuts would not apply to Social Security, Medicaid, civil and military employee pay, or veterans.

Who would believe that the Democrat leaders, Obama and Reid, would ever agree to real entitlement reform and spending cuts? The Republican leadership, Boehner and McConnell, have had faith in the Democrats. And the Republican establishment leadership has believed that they could work with Democrats for 30 years. Where has that faith paid off?

Of course, the twelve member commission was stacked with liberal progressive Democrats and RINOs appointed by Boehner and McConnell. Not surprisingly, the commission’s recommendations were virtually a rubber stamp of Obama’s program of huge tax increases and large defense cuts. The commission’s plan was unable to obtain passage in the conservative House and so we are stuck with the present sequestration plan, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

So it was the plan pushed by the Republican leadership that put us in this fix. Is it any wonder that conservatives in the House don’t trust them as evidenced by Boehner’s inability to get support for his latest “Plan B” tax increase on the “rich”?

But, in the larger sense, I think the blame for the untenable position that the Republican Party finds itself in lies at the doorstep of liberal Republicans who have controlled the party since Reagan. Republican leaders fail to understand that you cannot work with Democrats. We remember George HW’s famous line: “read my lips, no new taxes”. That didn’t last six months before he made a deal with Democrats to raise taxes in exchange for future spending cuts that never materialized. They never do. When will we learn?

So, in spite of an abysmal track record, Republicans continue to allow RINOs and liberals to lead the party and then get stuck in no win political duels with the progressive Democrats. They have destroyed the party of small government. Now our party is in the midst of a civil war and the leaders are purging conservatives from leadership roles.

This week, Representative Lynn Westmoreland, when asked by a reporter about the purges, responded: “I was just trying to describe an environment where some people that you’re trying to work with, they just don’t want to work within the system.” Well, Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, and all of you Bushes, your system is the same system that Democrats use and control and it’s the system that is destroying our country.

Image: courtesy of http://flickr.com/photos/bzo/14417381/; author: by bzo; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

R DavidRick David retired from a career in business in 2011. His experience includes service in the USAF, in medical sales and in operations for an educational testing company. He has a passion for and has been actively engaged in conservative issue advocacy and campaigning for over 30 years. He currently resides in North Liberty, Iowa with his wife of 43 years and travels extensively volunteering in lay ministry.

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