warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Super Congress Hopes To Accomplish What Congress Cannot

Jordan Klein |
August 22, 2011 | 10:48 a.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

(cliff1066™, Creative Commons)
(cliff1066™, Creative Commons)
The most significant result of the recent debt ceiling deal finally reached by Congress is the conception of a “Super Congress,” composed of six Republicans and six Democrats from both the Senate and House of Representatives.

The creation of this panel illustrates the ineptitude of Congress and its inability to solve our nation’s problems. Yet to hope for any better results from the “Super Congress” is futile, as the panel is packed with six Republicans who have once again taken any meaningful reform off the table.

The one doctrine that holds the Republican Party together is the idea that taxes are evil, and that to raise taxes by even a dime is an unforgivable attack on liberty and freedom. In fact, 97% of Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes, even in times of war. This dangerous pledge has Republicans stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Reason, fact, and basic math all tell us that we need to increase revenue in order to balance the budget. The easiest and most simplistic way to do this is to finally allow the disastrous Bush Tax Cuts to expire. Between 2001 and 2010, Bush’s tax cuts added a whopping $2.6 billion to the debt. The country is in desperate need of new revenue. Despite the Tea Party’s lies about the “crippling taxes” in this nation, tax collections have dropped to their lowest share of the economy in 60 years.

Despite all this, the only concrete plan that the Republican Party has is to lower taxes even more. The notion that tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, create jobs is a myth.

President Bush created only three million jobs, as opposed to the 23 million created during President Clinton’s presidency. What we need to do now is return tax rates to the levels that they were at during President Clinton’s term, clearly an atmosphere where job creation was healthy and vital.

Yet in the typical Democrat fashion, President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have already caved on pushing for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Time after time, President Obama has bowed to the Republican Party and signed off on the extension of the tax cuts. During the recent debt ceiling debate, Obama and the Democrats accepted a deal which was essentially all spending cuts and no new revenue increases. Congress was not even able to close egregious tax loopholes that allow most American corporations to pay almost zero income taxes.

Billionaire Warren Buffet recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times calling for increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Like any sensible person, Buffet believes that the wealthy in this country should shoulder a greater percentage of the sacrifice that we all must make in order to reduce the debt. Buffet has famously noted that he pays a lower percentage on his taxes than his own secretary. It is an embarrassment that oil companies and hedge-fund executives get treated like kings in this country, while almost 50 million Americans are currently on food stamps.

What liberals and progressives are asking for is by no means socialism. We simply desire tax rates to return to the level they were under Bill Clinton, a President with an actual record of creating jobs.

Unfortunately, the chances of the six Republicans in the “Super Congress” signing on to any revenue increases is slimmer than Sarah Palin winning a geography contest. Therefore, the Democrats that make up the panel need to draw a line in the sand and push for revenue increases as well as spending cuts. If getting rid of the Bush tax cuts is impossible right now, then we must at least close loopholes in the tax code. That is a moderate proposal that the majority of Republicans should be in favor of. Yet the modern Republican is by no means moderate. When almost every single member of the GOP has unilaterally agreed to never touch taxes and revenue, it is hard to see how the “Super Congress” can reach any semblance of compromise.

The Republicans want to lower taxes even farther for the rich and hope that some of their enormous wealth will trickle down to the poor masses below. To offset those costs, they then plan to make massive cuts to entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, something the majority of the American public is against. The era of the “Compassionate Conservative” is over.

The new Republican Party, led by the Tea-baggers, aims to make life even more comfortable for the super-rich by making cuts on the backs of the elderly, the sick, and the poor. Barring another capitulation by the Democrats, our nation is looking at yet another governmental deadlock due to the Republicans’ inability to compromise.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.