Supercommittee FAILure

Based upon what I’ve read and heard, common sense and intuition, it’s clear that the “super committee” failed to reach a deal for the good of the country because the Publicans continue bleating their same lame reason for refusing to countenance fair tax increases upon the rich. Hedge fund managers and Goldman Sachs partners do not create jobs. They are speculators who could care less about the rest of U. S.

The same old story — the tune is the same only the tooters have changed. The French Revolution happened because there was social unrest and the nobility did not share the tax burden equitably.

Before 1789 inequality was typical of the old government. The nobles and clergy were the privileged orders. They were exempt from such direct taxes as the taille, or land tax. Most taxes were paid by the Third Estate–a class that included peasants, artisans, merchants, and professional men. Even among these groups taxes were not equal. Some provinces were exempt from certain assessments, such as the gabelle, or salt tax. In addition, the collection of some taxes was made by contractors or tax farmers, and the tax gatherers collected whatever they could.

Similiarly, the English landed aristocracy forced taxes upon the American colonists to pay for the French and Indian War, even though the acquisition of Canada opened new markets for the priveleged class.

Like Karl Rove and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Grover Norquist, is a turd.

The supercommittee failed because Republicans refused to compromise

By Chris Van Hollen, Saturday, November 26, 1:12 PM

On Sept. 8, six Democrats and six Republicans sat down to breakfast at the first meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. We all knew that congressional gridlock had brought us together, but I arrived with high hopes that we would be able to make the tough decisions needed to address the twin challenges of job growth and deficit reduction. We did not succeed — and a huge opportunity was missed.

Our failure is being cast as the result of both parties refusing to give ground, and attempts at explanation are dismissed as partisan finger-pointing. That is a convenient narrative, but it ignores the facts.

Often in politics there is no objective measure for reasonable compromise. Fortunately, in this case the public has a measuring stick against which to judge competing claims. The recommendations made by the president’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (known as Simpson-Bowles, after the Republican and Democratic co-chairs) provide a model for comparing the major plans offered by both sides during the supercommittee deliberations.

First, consider the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases in Simpson-Bowles vs. the plans discussed by the supercommittee. As documented by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, when you factor in the $900 billion in budget cuts Congress made this year, Simpson-Bowles recommended about $2 in cuts for every $1 in revenue. By comparison, the major Democratic plan reflected a ratio of $6 in cuts for every $1 in revenue. The center noted that the Democratic plan “stands well to the right of plans” offered by Simpson-Bowles and other bipartisan groups. By contrast, the Republican plan fell far short of all other bipartisan plans. Compared with the Simpson-Bowles base line, it relied entirely on spending cuts and actually reduced revenue by permanently locking in tax cuts for the highest-income earners.

Second, Democrats were prepared to make important reforms to entitlement programs. While strongly opposing Republican proposals to end the Medicare guarantee and force seniors into the private insurance market without adequate support, we were prepared to put on the table all the Medicare and Medicaid reforms recommended by Simpson-Bowles. In total, the mandatory health-care savings proposed by the major Democratic plan equaled those in Simpson-Bowles. And when faced with the Republicans’ “cuts only” approach to Social Security, we considered a plan to strengthen that essential retirement security program through a mix of new revenue and reforms — the same approach taken by Simpson-Bowles and other bipartisan groups.

Third, in an effort to reach agreement, Democrats presented a plan with significantly lower revenue than in Simpson-Bowles. Relative to their base lines, the Democratic plan would have raised about $450 billion, almost $1 trillion less than Simpson-Bowles.

There has been much misinformation about the Republican tax proposal. The Republican claim to have raised $300 billion in “new tax revenue” is misleading. In reality, their willingness to raise $250 billion of that revenue was conditioned on Democrats agreeing to make permanent more than $800 billion of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which are scheduled to expire at the end of next year — thereby locking in $550 billion of tax breaks for the top 2 percent of earners. Their proposal was further conditioned on reducing tax rates while dramatically cutting various deductions. Analyses by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation and other independent groups indicate that the Republican plan to drop the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, while slashing deductions and preserving the current low rates on capital gains, would very likely increase the tax burden on many middle-income families and give the superwealthy a massive tax cut.

Overall, the Republican tax proposal fell nearly $2 trillion short of the revenue raised in Simpson-Bowles and, in comparison, increased the deficit by $500 billion.

While zealously guarding tax breaks for the highest earners, Republicans refused a Democratic proposal to temporarily extend and increase the payroll tax holiday for all working Americans next year. As a result, in January every U.S. worker will face a tax hike — at a time when consumer demand is likely to remain weak and the economy fragile. Republicans also rejected Democratic proposals to use some of the savings generated from our deficit-reduction plan to finance immediate job creation efforts and extend unemployment compensation to people out of work through no fault of their own.

When measured against the bipartisan standard set by Simpson-Bowles, supercommittee Democrats made every effort to move to the middle and put forward a deficit-reduction plan that met the test of balance. Republican proposals, however, fell far short, relying totally upon spending cuts and achieving $1 trillion less in total deficit reduction.

After weeks of intense talks, the failure to break the political gridlock is disappointing. We can no longer afford to punt on the difficult choices that we have been elected to address. The path to a balanced and fair solution is clear — but unless both sides are prepared to muster the political will, we cannot get there.

3:57 PM EST

The full Congress needs to vote on the Simpson-Bowles proposal. I know that many Dems (including my own representative in the House) are ready to vote yes. Let’s do it.

The supercommittee failed because Democrats insisted on $1 trillion in new taxes
By Jon Kyl, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, Jeb Hensarling, Fred Upton and Dave Camp, Published: November 25

We do not choose to add more to the blame game for failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, but one Democratic talking point needs debunking: that the talks failed because of Republicans’ attachment to the Bush tax cuts.

The untold story of the negotiations is the significance of the Republican offer of fundamental tax reform. It is critical to understand the interplay between the proposal (dubbed the “Toomey plan”) and existing tax law.

First, a bit of history. The 2001 and 2003 changes to the tax code reduced marginal rates for all taxpayers as well as the rates for capital gains, dividends and the death tax. For technical reasons, all of these provisions expire at the end of next year — meaning that if Congress does not act, Americans will face the largest tax increase in our history.

This prospect has put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery. It would be the wrong medicine for our ailing economy. As President Obama has famously said, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Partially to avoid this result, but also to try to meet the Democrats partway — given their absolute insistence on big, new tax increases — Republicans offered a proposal that would have both reformed the current code and produced significant new tax revenue.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin rightly called the Toomey plan a “breakthrough” in the negotiations; indeed, it was the only truly new idea offered during this process.

The essence of the plan was to dramatically reduce the deductions and credits wealthier taxpayers can claim to reduce their tax liability. That would generate enough revenue to both permanently reduce marginal rates for all taxpayers and provide more than $250 billion for deficit reduction. Added to other receipts, taxes and fees, the Republican plan amounted to more than $500 billion in deficit reduction revenue and $900 billion in spending reductions. We believe this lowering of the rates and broadening of the tax base would have spurred economic growth, created jobs and, in the process, generated billions more in revenue from growth in the economy.

Now, here’s the key: None of this can happen if the current law’s automatic tax increases occur on Jan. 1, 2013. We can’t both reform the code as Republicans propose and undo it all 12 months later.

Democrats made a point of saying that they would accept the new tax revenue in the plan but that they still also wanted the 2013 tax increase — which, of course, would negate the benefits of the proposal.

Why do Republicans believe our proposal is preferable to the automatic 2013 rate increases? Apart from the fact that our economy could not withstand the almost $4 trillion tax increase, it would directly and adversely affect small-business investment decisions. Business decisions are highly sensitive to the rates of the capital gains, dividends and death tax, as well as marginal tax rates. That’s why Republicans would leave them alone and raise revenue instead by limiting personal itemized deductions and credits that have much less impact on investment decisions by small-business owners.

The point is, it matters both how and how much the government takes from taxpayers.
So it was not some political attachment to the Bush tax cuts that stymied committee success but, rather, the refusal of the committee’s Democrats to acknowledge the inconsistency in claiming to accept the amount and way the Republican plan would raise tax revenue while insisting that the 2013 tax increases (at least those affecting investment decisions) must also occur.

At no time in the negotiations did the Democratic committee members drop their insistence that, one way or the other, any deal had to include a trillion dollars in new taxes. Republicans believe that would kill job creation and economic recovery. In the long run, a strong economy producing more wealth (and, therefore, more tax revenue) is how we will both reduce the deficit and regain the prosperity that all Americans deserve.

4:00 PM EST

The authors of this screed are corrupt lying sacks of crap. All they care about is protecting the rich and screwing the poor.

Portman, seen as key player in supercommittee, couldn’t break deadlock

11:10 PM, Nov. 25, 2011

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rob Portman arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Monday morning, steeled for one last round of frantic negotiations with his colleagues on the so-called supercommittee. Sen. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat whom Portman had bonded with during weekend bike rides in recent weeks, had a last-ditch deficit reduction proposal he wanted to pitch.

The Ohio Republican and others huddled in Kerry’s Senate office, with a crush of reporters waiting outside for any scrap of news. Emerging after more than two hours, Portman and his GOP colleagues were stone faced. But the Ohio senator told the press this much: We’re still working.

But even as Portman ran through Kerry’s latest offer in his mind, he knew it wasn’t going to fly – with his GOP colleagues or with other Democrats on the panel, either. So he retreated to his office, where he and other GOP members of the supercommittee discussed the demise of the unprecedented deficit-reduction panel.

“I devoted myself to this project,” Portman said later, after the supercommittee collapsed in failure on Monday evening. Despite huge philosophical differences between the two parties, Portman said he truly believed that, given the depth of the fiscal crisis, “we could figure out a way to come together. And I was wrong.”

Portman had been seen as a pivotal force on the 12-member bipartisan committee, which under the August agreement to raise the debt ceiling had until Nov. 23 to come up with $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over the next decade. Observers said Portman’s expertise in the mind-numbing intricacies of the federal budget, combined with his pragmatic consensus-inclined political style, would be essential to getting a deal.

“Portman is the key to me,” Norman Ornstein, a longtime congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Fiscal Times in August, after the 55-year-old Portman was tapped to be one of the six GOP lawmakers on the bipartisan panel. “Rob is smart, decent, not a crazy. He is the kind of person you’d want on this panel.”

In the end, Portman did not play an outsized part in the supercommittee’s deliberations – most of which took place behind closed doors. He cleared his Senate schedule to focus almost exclusively on the supercommittee’s work. He logged hundreds of hours drafting a corporate tax reform proposal, among other things. And he served as a resource on down-in-the-weeds budget questions from his less-knowledgeable colleagues, including a contentiousproposal to change the way Social Security benefits are indexed for inflation.

But he cut a low profile as the negotiations became more serious, ceding the spotlight to conservatives on the panel, including Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. And even though he tried to be a broker between liberals like Kerry and conservatives like Hensarling, he was hardly a rouge actor looking to break from the GOP party line or his own conservative principals to get a deal.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., said Portman’s lower profile was probably more reflective of his quiet negotiating style than of his influence within the group.

“He’s just real,” said Simpson, who served on the president’s bipartisan debt-reduction commission and consulted with the supercommittee. “He’s a guy who wants to make things work.”

That he didn’t succeed, Simpson said, speaks volumes about the current political environment but says little about Portman himself.

“He did all he could considering the pressures he got from outside and from his own party,” Simpson said. “There were people (on the supercommittee) who wanted one thing and one thing only – for it to fail.”

Thomas Mann, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank, similarly said the “supercommittee was doomed to failure” because Republicans took such a hard line opposing any significant tax increases. “The minor concessions were not serious,” Mann said, referring to a GOP proposal that offered some revenue increases. “As a consequence, I don’t think there were any pivotal players.”

Portman and others, Mann added, “had no room to operate.”

Conservative observers say it was the Democrats who were intransigent, refusing to offer significant changes to entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare, which account for a huge chunk of the federal budget.

In any case, no one thinks Portman will shoulder a significant share of the blame for the supercommittee’s deadlock. But there’s no putting any window dressing on the supercommittee’s final result or the fallout: furious colleagues and disgusted voters.

“No one looks worse in this mess than the 12 lawmakers who were handed nearly unlimited power to reshape federal taxation and spending for years to come and couldn’t find a penny’s worth of common ground,” wrote one Capitol Hill publication, Politico, in a column describing the “winners” and “losers” in Monday’s supercommittee collapse. “Some were looked at as deal makers, others as deal breakers, but in the end there was no deal to make or break.”

Asked about the fallout for him politically, Portman said, “I have no idea.”

In a session with reporters after the supercommittee officially shut down Monday, Portman agreed there wasn’t a lot of negotiating room, although he said Democrats shared in the blame. He noted the GOP did put a considerable amount of revenue increases on the table – about $250 billion worth – so “we crossed the line.” But the philosophical divide between the two parties, over the size and role of government, was simply too big to bridge.

“Members on both sides put proposals in front of the group that crossed the normal party lines,” he said. But no single proposal ever went far enough to sway minds or swing votes.

Asked how the impasse reflects on Congress’ competence and ability to make tough decisions, Portman noted that deficit reduction will still happen – either through the automatic cuts triggered by the supercommittee’s failure or through alternative trims legislators devise before those reductions kick in in 2013 – unless Congress reverses the scheduled cuts.

During much of the supercommittee’s three-month life, Portman immersed himself in an effort to craft a major overhaul of corporate taxes. The measure Portman came up with would not have raised more tax revenues – it was a budget-neutral proposal that closed loopholes and used the savings to lower corporate tax rates. But Portman argued that it would make the American economy more efficient, predictable and globally competitive – thereby spurring fresh investment and growth.

His pitch to the other supercommittee members was simple: there are no lobbyists in the room fighting to protect their narrow write-offs. It can’t be watered down by other lawmakers using a death-by-a thousand-amendments strategy. Because any deal approved by the supercommittee would have been fast-tracked through the House and Senate with no possibility for changes or filibusters, Portman said it offered a unique opportunity to jump Congress’ normal legislative hurdles and rid the federal tax code of narrow special interest deductions and breaks.

Portman’s proposal became a focus of some back-and-forth between the two sides, but it wasn’t included in the GOP’s most significant supercommittee offer – a deficit-savings plan that would have saved more than $1 trillion over 10 years, through about $300 billion in new revenue (including about $50 billion in anticipated revenue from economic growth) and about $700 billion in spending cuts, among other measures. That offer, made on Nov. 7, marked a high point in the supercommittee’s negotiations. Democrats initially appeared interested, but after a closer look, said it was insufficient.

Republicans refused to give any more.

Portman, Kerry and others continued to talk to each other, conferring in small groups and even one-on-one, until the last minute.

“I’ve never spent so much time in Washington,” Portman said Monday, adding that even when he served as a top aide in to then-President George W. Bush, he’d been able to go back to Ohio more often than he had in the past three months.

But even as the supercommittee co-chairs had declared the negotiations over and the supercommittee dead, Portman continued to talk about the next steps – how to revive the supercommittee’s various moribund proposals and keep going. “We did a lot of good work that’s now available,” he said.

Contact Deirdre Shesgreen at

6:23 AM on November 26, 2011
All Portman had to do was vote yes to higher taxes on the top 1% and let the Bush tax break to expire and there would have been a deal. This would have represented his constituents who are overwhelming for doing way with the tax breaks on the rich. All it would have taken was his one vote to break the impasse. So all of the BS about how hard he tried, is just that BS. He held out for bigger cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Mediaid with his radical right ideology and was in favor of revising the tax code to favor the rich even more. Ohioans are fed up with the elite political class and rich who repress us. His failure to represent the majority of Ohioans is really just proof to what we already knew. Rob Portman has sold us out to the rich.

About Jerry Frey

Born 1953. Vietnam Veteran. Graduated Ohio State 1980. Have 5 published books. In the Woods Before Dawn; Grandpa's Gone; Longstreet's Assault; Pioneer of Salvation; Three Quarter Cadillac
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