The fight this fall is not just over the elections; it's over stopping the deficit hysterics from killing Social Security and Medicare.
One hopes that the President will keep that last commitment and not abandon it in another feckless attempt to build credibility with the Republicans in the upcoming "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Assuming they mean this, of course. Considering how eager our allegedly liberal Dick Durbin is to push Simpson Bowles, that's debatable. Simpson Bowles, you'll recall, not only cut the hell out of Medicare and Medicaid, it put Social Security on the menu even though it wasn't part of their mandate and contributes nothing to these deficit numbers. They just did it out of the goodness of their hearts. Fortunately, they couldn't get a majority of the commission to sign on to their plan, but Durbin seems to think it's the template for the talks coming up right after the election.Personally, I like "Stop the Deficit Hysterics." It's accurate and insulting at the same time.
If you are going to be attending any rallies over he next few weeks and are wondering what kind of signs you should take, how about "No Grand Bargains" or "Just Say No to Simpson-Bowles." Or something like that. They may not be sexy, but if that message starts showing up in the crowds maybe the politicians will realize that we are on to them. I'm not sure they care, but ...
And if anybody gets in your face about "the debt," throw this back at them:
Regardless, in case anyone's forgotten, there is no debt crisis. The United States can easily borrow as much as it needs at low interest rates, suggesting there's nothing even close to a debt crisis. This is a fig leaf Ryan and the right is using to rationalize draconian cut to domestic priorities, which they've long wanted to make anyway.
Second, if Ryan and his allies were seriously panicked about reducing the deficit and getting our fiscal house in order, they'd consider modest tax increases on the wealthy. Indeed, we know exactly what's driving the national debt, and much of it has to do with tax cuts the rich didn't need and the country couldn't afford. When Ryan acknowledges this, he'll start to have some credibility on the issue.
And third, for all of Ryan's alleged fear about the debt, his last budget plan ignored deficit reduction altogether, and instead prioritized more tax breaks for those at the very top. Asked yesterday about tax loopholes he'd be willing to close to help pay for his plans, Ryan refused to go into any detail.