Supercommittee and Jobs Act: Twins

[Events are overtaking this post faster than I can edit!  So it’s a bit of a jumble.]

President Obama’s “American Jobs Act of 2011”  is such a steaming pile of FAIL that it is hard to know where to begin.

Last week the two co-chairs said that many future panel meetings will be closed to the public, though, press and public interest groups have called for transparency and disclosure of every meeting.

If the joint committee or Congress fail to act by December 23, the bill calls for automatic across-the-board cuts, split 50-50 between defense and non-defense spending, including Medicare.  Social Security and Medicaid would be excluded from the automatic cuts.

The plan also calls for a Congressional vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year.  That vote would require a 2/3 majority in both Houses.

via Deficit ‘Super Committee’ Holds First Hearing | C-SPAN.

We charged into the House, and promptly squandered a huge head of steam with CR shenanigans, then gave up the debt limit, and threw away our numerical advantage in the House for this sackfull of magic beans.

  • First off, we had a crushing majority in the House, and a bare minority in the Senate.  That was real power, which we fumbled when we had it, and now it’s gone.  Every meaningful action will be hostage to this miserable deficit cabal, so we now have no practical advantage in the House for matters outside the deficit.
  • Second, the mandate of the deficit cabal will be continually expanded in a mission creep the likes of which we have not seen since “Train Police” became “Bomb Laos”.
  • Third, the subjects within the cabal’s fell clutches will be driven toward an EXPANSION of government spending so long as there are increasing taxes and nonsensical “efficiencies” (example: your replacement hip in thirty years) to balance the gristly overcooked books.
  • Fourth, we gave up our fight for CCB by punting to the week after this cabal’s homework is due.  Understand that nothing is contingent upon the CCB passing–there is only a requirement to vote on it.  Upon which nothing depends.  If it does not happen, then we will have no choice but to be angry at Democrats.  But we will also have no way to force the issue.
  • Fifth, whose damned abysmal idea was it to divide the trigger cuts (the “or else” portion of reduce the deficit or else) into “defense and non-defense” spending?  And beyond that, why are Social Security and Medicare off the table?  After all, those are the problem and defense spending is not.  Entitlement spending such as Social Security and Medicare should absolutely be on the table!  Defense spending is a Constitutional duty of the Federal government (States cannot do it) while Social Security is not (States could do it just as poorly as the Feds).  Why not divide the cuts into Social program spending and non-Social program spending?  Or better yet, why not keep defense off the table and let them argue about the rest?  But no, after Gates trimmed hundreds of billions from Defense, here come the maggots to chew the military’s guts out.
  • Sixth, the meetings which matter will be hidden from the public.  Congress took the unprecedented dual steps of forming a committee to handle this and then imbuing that committee with the Russian-roulette power to bypass both the amendment and the filibuster mechanism.  Congress has thereby taken the dirty work of yet again screwing us and shuffled it off to a subsidiary for blame-shifting.  The way this will work is that the committee will say they were doing what they had to in order to comply with the law enacted by the larger Congress.  Congress will say that their hands are tied by the prohibitions against amendments and filibusters.  The President of course has only the choice of signing or not signing (vetoing) any bill.  Once this thing gets rolling, the American people have nobody to blame for the disaster to come.

And that’s the trap.  Because this is essentially a blame-free innovation, every unpopular political temptation will be squeezed into the mandate of this pocket Congress.  What would normally have been thrashed out in public will be arranged in secret.  What cannot be kept secret will be blame-shifted.  What cannot be shifted will be used as weapons against the public by a President and Congress seeking shelter from a mounting fury.

And that is what is happening with the “American Jobs Act of 2011”. This is the sort of thing I call a singing horse project, after an old joke in which a convict is sentenced to death, but granted a one-year term to teach the King’s horse to sing.  When later chided by a cellmate for his stupidity at staking his life on an impossible task, he says, “A lot can happen in a year.  The horse could die.  The King could die.  I could die.  And who knows?  Maybe the horse will sing.”

Nothing would make the President happier than to see that bill shot down once and for all, hopefully before some major leg of his not-a-campaign tour.  There is not a chance that the tax-increase festooned monstrosity will pass in the House — it may not even live to see a vote.  I see that the President is now thumping a color glossy of the bill, so perhaps it has already been introduced in the House [Oh noes! Chumped by the Gohmert shuffle!]by Pelosi and her henchrats, but it will not be passed out of the House for consideration by the Senate.

The “Jobs Bill”, as it will inevitably be called by its proponents and (stupidly) opponents alike, is designed to fail, so that the President can use it as a campaign prop.  “The Republicans voted down the American Jobs Act, wouldn’t close tax loopholes for the rich, wouldn’t stop corporate welfare for Big Oil, wouldn’t prioritize hiring of unemployed veterans”, and so forth.  The bill is a doomed manure sack of entrenched spending and dubious revenue.  Republicans cannot pass it without breaking faith with the fiscal base, as designed.  They cannot block it without being called job-killing cake-eaters by the President, as designed.

Obama wants the bill to fail.  That’s why he worked so hard to put himself on the record as wanting it to pass, by repeating “Pass this bill now!” every 120 seconds of his speech.  For forty minutes.  [He also wanted to establish the ideas bonafides as being a bill, which in fact it still is not].  While the lengthy harangue to pimp the bill was tedious and insulting, having forcibly catapulted “Pass this bill now!” into the Billy-Mays-o-sphere of annoying pitches, the whole thing is a quite capable political maneuver on the part of the Democrats.  It crucifies Republicans unless the GOP is unflinching in its opposition for principled and well-explained reasons.

And that sort of fortitude has not been in evidence, which is how we wound up with the likely vehicle for “paying for” the provisions of this bill: the deficit cabal, for who knows?  Maybe the bill will pass.

 

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