Sunday, October 27, 2013

NY Times: "In Search Of Republican Grown-Ups"

In an editorial, The New York Times recognizes that it's fine for the Republican establishment to decry the "juvenile shutdown stunt," but the party needs to do much more to be recognized as mature and responsible. Specifically, the GOP must end its obsession with austerity, corporate tax cuts and the deficit, which is already falling, and demonstrate a willingness to make the investments that will allow the economy to thrive. It doesn't look as if the Republicans, though, are ready to be constructive:

At a time when the economy is desperate for federal help and 11.3 million people are still unemployed, the party — and not just its far-right wing — is still pretending that cutting spending and lowering the deficit remain the country’s most urgent priorities. Republicans won’t acknowledge that tax increases, along with spending cuts they have forced on the country, have already driven the deficit down to 4 percent of the aggregate economy, from 10 percent in 2009. Their appetite for billions in further cuts has only grown.

This will become obvious next week when the budget committees of the House and Senate gather for their first conference on the budget for fiscal year 2014, which began more than three weeks ago. (Republicans had refused the repeated requests of Democrats for a negotiation since April.) The conference is a moment to finally set aside the sequester cuts that have hobbled the economy and begin needed investments in education and infrastructure, rebuilding cities and the lives of those left behind.

But Republicans won’t hear of it. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking member of the budget panel, says that keeping the current spending caps is a bedrock principle. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, ostensibly an anti-shutdown “adult,” wants to use the conference to cut social-welfare entitlements and relieve the tax burden on corporations. “We have to make a down payment on the debt and deficit,” he told Congressional Quarterly.

That down payment has already been made, many times over, and Democrats have vowed not to even consider entitlement changes in the absence of big tax increases on the rich. What ails the economy now is not corporate taxes but the iron lid on spending, clamped tight for two years.

Image: Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

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