Monday, November 14, 2011

The Wacko Who Has Washington's Balls in a Sling

If you're wondering about the causative agent responsible for heaping a world of hurt on millions in this country come day after Thanksgiving, look no further than Grover Norquist, the anti-tax wacko that has a majority of the D.C. Beltway's balls in a sling thanks to his anti-tax pledge. As of this writing, it is estimated some 89% of the GOP-ers in congress have taken Norquist's misbegotten pledge never to raise taxes. This even includes voting down the repeal of the existing Bush tax cuts (again, another good reason for the Dems - while they still cling to a majority - to just let them ALL expire without regard to income class.)

As I noted in an earlier blog:

a "Joint Deficit Reduction Committee" which is a creature not of a legitimate constitutional process, but rather political expediency, is poised to end up in a quagmire with automatic cuts triggered including $600 billion for social programs, and $600 billion for defense. This quagmire is a result of none of the 6 members of the GOP side being able to budge on allowing higher revenues via taxes, on account of being held hostage to Grover Norquist's ridiculous pledge.

Meanwhile, the Dem side of 6 has virtually proposed the social domestic kitchen sink to try to snare a deal before the Nov. 23 deadline. They are - get this - prepared to:

- Exact massive cuts to Medicaid (ensuring the states will have to lower thresholds even further to qualify)

- Increase the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 or 68

- Allow a change in the inflation -adjustment formula to "slow the growth of Social Security benefits" - an abomination on which I previously blogged, noting it would rapidly translate into increased poverty among the elderly by essentially removing one whole month of (currently) received benefits every few years.

Even with all this on the table, perhaps the largest proposed social benefits cuts ever, the Reeps are stonewalling - always fearful of Grover calling them on the carpet. In other words, Norquist- an unelected twerp- has our whole government and nation by the proverbial balls.

Though I hold no endearing brief for Alan Simpson (he of the "sucking 300 million teats" description for those taking Social Security) I do concur with him when he recently commented:

"If Grover Norquist is now the most powerful man in America, he should run for President. Let me tell you, he has people in thrall."

Yeppers, Mr. Simpson, and by the balls!

The sad thing is all of this deficit humbug the past year could have been avoided with just one single good faith move by the Repugs on taxes. One little bit of willingness to raise them, just to the marginal rate during the Clinton years. This would not only have solve the deficit riddle, but also spurred more economic growth, and jobs. It would have occurred by energizing the weakened aggregate demand.

Economic author Matt Miller, in his book, The Tyranny of Dead Ideas, showed that tax cuts "are amongst the most dead ideas of them all". In terms of economic growth over time, it is in fact the European "welfare" states which beat the pants off the tax-phobic U.S. of A. The reason is simple: the people in those nations haven't had their brains subverted against higher taxes, and understand they are part of a commonweal whose shared interests those taxes support.

They also get it that the spending generated by that "welfare" side of the economy is what props up the demand side of the macro-economic equation, and preserves growth while the "supply-side" economies (like the U.S.) suffer. Why do people think Germany has done so much better than the U.S. in weathering this recession?

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert also gets it:

"All we are good at is bulldozing money to the very wealthy, no wonder the country is in such a deeep slide....America will never get its act together until we recognize how much trouble we're in and how much effort and shared sacrifice are needed to stop the decline. "

The trouble is, as long as Grover Norquist has all the Goop-ers balls locked up in his 'no taxes' chains, the national economic malaise will continue because the political system will remain paralyzed.

Just remember who to blame when your Medicaid gets drastically cut in a few more weeks and your Medicare benefits are cut by providers, faced with cuts in federal funding!

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