Friday, January 4, 2013

Democrats fell off the cliff and can't get up

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Some Democrats are crowing about the fiscal cliff outcome, and criticizing Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner for not having control of his party. Yesterday, many bloggers and political pundits cast President Obama as the clear winner in the fiscal cliff showdown.

But as Obama signed the new tax bill into law yesterday morning, some Democrats are wondering if they really got what they wanted.

The deal that Obama and Democrats struck with the GOP in the Senate and the House does nothing to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: programs progressives strongly support.

Virginia Congress member Jim Moran was one of the few Democrats who voted against the deal, arguing that it raises little revenue, and leaves about $3.9 trillion on the table that could have been used to pay down the deficit.
Worse, Moran said in an MSNBC interview, it locks the US into an unsustainable scenario. Raising revenue is imperative, he said. Soon, Moran said, the interest on the debt will be greater than the country’s capacity to invest in itself through education, research, and development — the true job creators.

This is occurring, he said, as the US faces increased global competition — bad news for US workers. Instead of improving our standard of living, wages in the US will continue to slide while household incomes in countries like China, India, and Brazil tick upward.

A Washington Post article checking the facts on what Obama and Democrats said they wanted and what they got from the deal raised similar questions. The Post points out an important and often overlooked concern: the Bush era tax cuts amounted to spending in a different way. The lost revenue was never replaced and the cuts were supposed to be temporary; now they’re permanent.

Conservatives may not be able to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid through outright and transparent means. But the deal that’s just been signed could starve the programs of the funding they need to operate effectively. Different route, same result.

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