November 29, 2012
TAXPAYERS VS LOBBIES:
The fight for a grand bargain (David M. Walker NOVEMBER 29, 2012, Reuters)
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2012 5:00 AM[T]he battle is far from over. Ideologues and special interests on the left and right are marshaling forces to crush all efforts to achieve a reasoned fiscal compromise. We are about to discover if our elected representatives are leaders or minions.Each party has its sacred cow, untouchable in previous negotiations. For the Republicans, it is their insistence on no tax increases; for the Democrats it is a refusal to consider cuts to social insurance programs.Both positions are irresponsible -- because we cannot address our structural deficits and mounting debt burdens without additional tax revenues and reform of existing social insurance programs. After all, total federal liabilities, unfunded promises for Medicare and Social Security, and other commitments are more than $71 trillion and growing by about $100 billion a week.Already, however, several major unions and other special interest groups - for example, AARP and The Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare - have launched campaigns to pressure members of Congress to keep social insurance programs off the table in connection with any fiscal Grand Bargain.These efforts coincide with the "Social Security Protector's Pledge" championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). His pledge now has signatures from 110 representatives and 11 senators.Meanwhile, Americans for Tax Reform still has signed no-tax pledges from more than 200 representatives and many senators. You can bet that right-wing ideologues will be threatening to punish any Republican legislators who stray.