Monday, August 8, 2011

Budget Gridlock: Who’s to blame?

Dems say the GOP was holding America hostage. No, Really.

Occasionally someone writes a piece that is so shocking to me that I feel I must respond. Not only is it shocking, it seems to represent what many on the left think.

A friend of mine who is a good writer and a committed liberal (he, of course, sees himself as a centrist) recently wrote an article on the CAIVN website (California Independent Voter Network) titled “The Gridlock Myth” ( in which he found the Dems and the left to be completely innocent of the Washington debt debate paralysis, and that Obama is a “classic centrist.” While he is only speaking for himself, his viewpoints permeate irresponsible media outlets. Now, I am not going to claim that the GOP was totally innocent, but to declare that the Dems were innocent and the GOP guilty is simply preposterous.

The items in his article I took particular exception to (as well as the whole concept) were as follows:

“In other words, the Democrats are not standing pat. They are responding to changes in the electorate and finding means of compromising in order to move the dialogue forward and meet the pragmatic needs of the country.” A common view amongst many MSM people and the left. In addition to the ridiculous assertion that Dems are attempting to meet the “pragmatic needs of the country,” the statement implies that Dems were bring solutions to the table. In reality, they brought nothing to the table (except speeches) and did nothing but respond to proposals with venom.

“…the President, as leader of the Democrats, has constantly moved his position on taxation to the right until he agreed to a cuts-only budget in order to reach a debt-ceiling agreement.” No, he has never moved his position on taxes. He signed some compromise legislation, but that does not mean he moved his position. Quite the contrary. He has continued to excoriate “corporate jet owners,” and wealthy people for not paying “their fair share.”

From the National Taxpayers Union

Tax Year 2008

Percentiles Ranked by AGI

AGI Threshold on Percentiles

Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top 1%



Top 5%



Top 10%



Top 25%



Top 50%



Bottom 50%



Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
Source: Internal Revenue Service

Am I missing something, or are the top earners already paying considerably more than their fair share. Look, if you want to say they should pay more, that is an arguable point. But saying they are not paying their “fair share” is complete nonsense.

No, Obama has not moved his position. However, here is where his pragmatism comes in. He wants to get reelected.

“… it is the President and the Democrats who have done all the heavy lifting in the debt ceiling negotiations…” What? WHAT? WHAT?!?!?. Again – all they did was sit back and let the GOP do the “heavy lifting.” They just waited until the last minute when they thought they had gotten all they could and said “okay.” Count up the concrete proposals the Dems put forward. Oh, that’s right – there weren’t any.

“Obama governs as a classic centrist politician who understands the art of compromise. He seeks to bring us back to "the center", while the Republicans have seemingly been seduced (or bludgeoned) by the Tea Party, and they cannot or will not find their way back to the middle with their current leadership.” First, the “middle” as he puts it is his position. Lefties all think their position is the correct one, so it is the middle. I, of course, think that my position is the middle, and that the essential core of the tea-party arguments are centrist. Take, for instance, the balanced-budget amendment, which is a tea party plank. A CNN/ORC poll – question 25 -- showed 74% of people favor a balanced budget amendment, while 24% opposed. Everyone has an opinion of how to balance it, but a huge majority thinks it is a good thing. In my view, this makes it centrist. Dems call it “whacko” and “extremist.” Time to reconsider what is considered left, right and center.

Now, let’s not get confused about the definition of gridlock. The end result isn’t the issue; it is the process leading up to it. The gridlock occurs because nobody will budge and do anything. So the process drags on and on, creating the gridlock. The process is ended at the moment the gridlock is broken. Everything that happened prior to the agreement was, in fact, the gridlock. Let me remind of a few things the Dems “would not budge” on prior to the agreement, thus the gridlock-

Raising taxes was a must. They ultimately did agree on a short-term basis. Short term – because if nothing is done, the tax increases by letting the Bush tax cuts expire will go into effect. So, no, they did not really “cave,” they just allowed the tax issue to be put on hold, knowing that if nothing changes, they will get their way. Agree or not, their insistence on raising taxes was definitely part of the gridlock.

Entitlement reform. Until the eleventh hour, they would not budge on that (identical to the GOP’s position on defense spending). Entitlement reform is, of course, the largest elephant in the room. Dems say they are in favor of entitlement reform, but they have not put a proposal on the table, and have opposed anything in that arena proposed by Republicans.

Obamacare. That, of course, is off the table. But that’s not being stubborn, that’s merely good sense, right?

Paul Ryan proposed a plan that would go a long way towards fixing things. Dems don’t like it because they think the “rich” should pay more taxes. That is their opinion; and while I disagree wholeheartedly, their opinion is still an (ugh) valid one. However, NO plan had been put forward by the Dems. None. For over two years. Two Years! And they had the Presidency, the house, and the senate! They could have done anything they wanted! (Oh, how silly of me to forget. Even though all parties and the rating agencies agree we need to cut the deficit by $4T, Obama did put forth a plan that failed to get a vote in the Senate from the GOP or the Dems and would have raised the debt. I carelessly forgot about that one.) Why? Because they won’t cut anything. Because they simply cannot make tough choices. Because they are all fluff and no foundation.

The clear (and currently successful) plan by the Dems is this: Don’t cut anything. Wait until the GOP gets some power here, and let them do the dirty work by suggesting cuts, i.e., let them suggest cutting Medicare by $1T, and they will look like meanies. Then when we get $500B back so the total cut is only $500B, we will look like heroes. Mission accomplished, we get a cut -- the GOP gets the blame. “Whew, looks like we won’t get Greeced after all, and the GOP is getting the blame. Boy did that work out swell.”

And this nonsense about Obama being a centrist. He may be as you say responding to the public (others call it flip-flopping), but he is no centrist. From his famous interview with Charles Gibson-

"Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” When Gibson responded that lowering the tax rate can increase revenues to the government, Obama replied "Well, that might happen, or it might not. It depends on what's happening on Wall Street and how business is going..." Again indicating he didn't care about the actual revenues received, only the principle of fairness.

That is not a centrist. The revenue itself was not important. Only the “fairness” of the situation.

By the way, when I googled this subject a year ago it showed up on the ABC web site as the first thing on the list. Now I can’t find it there. I had to go to another source. What a coincidence.

I could go on and on about this "centrist" stuff such as his dictatorial views on green energy, the EPA, the justice department...but that is another whole subject that can't be handled here.

Back to the budget debate; everyone agrees that spending cuts are necessary. Everyone agrees that entitlement reform is necessary. Although, in my opinion, Dems reluctantly agree to this only because it is so blatantly obvious that they can’t get away with their normal whipped-cream analysis.

On the other hand, conservatives do not agree with tax cuts. As a businessman, I know that permanently cutting taxes to businesses and relaxing regulations would stimulate the economy (the private sector, which is what is important) enormously. Others may have a different view.

So, we all agree to cut spending, but we don’t all agree to raise taxes. What is the obvious choice here? Cut spending now and keep talking about the taxes (tax reform, etc.).

The tea part “extremists” (those wild-eyed people who represent the views of over half the American public) and the left-wing ideologues are sent to congress to do what their constituents want. If there are not enough votes for agreement on an issue, then you don’t get agreement and you accept the consequences. The tea party guys were willing to accept the consequences. So were the left-wingers. So, again, the “middle” got enough votes to hammer out something. That’s the way it is supposed to work.

I don’t have any problem with someone claiming that both sides are responsible for the gridlock. But don’t blame just the GOP. That’s preposterous. In fact, a clear look at evidence tilts the scale in the opposite direction.

Besides, gridlock isn’t always bad. Too bad we didn’t have gridlock when Obamacare was proposed. We would be far better off.

Article referrenced

Mercer Tyson

1 comment:

  1. I agree with much of your article but I am a little bit more slanted towards gridlock being a good thing most of the time. Our founders made the Senate and Congress such that there would always be much disagreement about any bill being considered. ONLY the parts of any bill that are agreed to by both parties should ever be sent to the President . If none of the bill is acceptable to both sides then SHELVe IT. Compromise is almost always a bad thing. For instance the budget is out of balance one side is stuck on spending cuts and the other side wants some cuts and some increases. Compromise is not a good thing here because in today's economy ANY tax increase will make it worse. I hated the "compromise" that these idiots came up with. They allowed more debt ceiling (the worst possible outcome) and then kicked the bravery down the road to some unconstitutionally supported "super committee" . This negated the hopes of our founders because the "compromises' avoided fixing the problem (made it worse) and now a bunck of power is placed in very few hands leaving open even worse compromises and possible corruption (few people to coerce, bribe or convince). Compromise is almost always bad. Agreement on those aspects which make everyone happy are the only things that should make it into law.