The spectacle of Democrats and Republicans arguing about who is to
"blame" for the "failure" of the "Supercommittee" is certainly tempting
for many partisans. But any progressive who participates in the
spectacle risks attacking their own interests to the degree that they
promote the implicit assumption that the public interest would have been
better served if the Super Committee had reached a deal.
shouldn't be arguing about who is to "blame" for this development. We
should be arguing about who should be awarded credit for this
We should, to borrow a phrase from Monty Python, be dancing on the Super Committee's grave, singing Hallelujah.
Who should get the Academy Award? The AFL-CIO? The Strengthen Social Security Campaign? The Tea Party? All of the above?
it was a de facto coalition between the AFL-CIO and its friends and the
Tea Party and its friends which again defeated the cruel plan of the
extreme center to trade Social Security cuts and raising the Medicare
retirement age for a relatively meaningless increase on the tax rates
paid by rich people.
Why meaningless? Because tax rates
raised today can easily be lowered in the future. Cutting Social
Security benefits by changing the cost-of-living formula and raising the
Medicare retirement age are forever.
From the point of
view of the national aspirations of the indigenous people of the United
States, what was the right price to charge for Manhattan Island? Surely
the answer is: there was no right price. Cash is ephemeral. Control of
territory could be forever.
Similarly, there is no amount
of increasing taxes on rich people that can compensate low-income
workers for cutting their Social Security benefits and taking away their
access to Medicare.
It would be one thing if you could
put the increased tax revenues from the rich people in a special fund
that could only be used to benefit low-income workers. Even then, it
wouldn't make sense, but at least in theory, there's a point at which
you could equalize.
But of course, you can't do that. More
than half of the increased revenues would go to feed the Pentagon
monster, protecting the largest centrally planned economy on earth from
cuts to its bloat that are long overdue. And moreover, that bloat isn't
just a waste of taxpayer money. To the extent that the bloat supports
the far-flung imperial ambitions of the neocon wing of the foreign
policy elite, that bloat actually threatens the physical well-being of
Americans, because the bigger the military is, the more neocon wars we
will have. Furthermore, since military spending is the least efficient
form of government spending from the point of view of job creation, if
we have to cut somewhere during a period of high unemployment, then the
military is the best place to cut.
Indeed, the "horrible
consequence" which was supposedly the big incentive for the
Supercommittee to reach a deal was that if they didn't, it would trigger
half a trillion dollars in cuts in projected Pentagon spending over 10
years -- about a 15% cut. That would take Pentagon spending back to 2007
levels -- hardly a shutdown of the military-industrial complex. More
like an overdue haircut.
Now that the trigger is supposed
to take place, expect even more whining and special pleading from those
who get fat off Pentagon contracts at taxpayer expense.
these people have now been beaten twice in the last year: once when the
Budget Control Act passed, and once when the Supercommittee failed to
reach agreement. The "revealed preference" of Congress so far is this:
there is no majority coalition in Congress which prefers cutting Social
Security benefits, raising the Medicare retirement age and increasing
taxes on rich people to cutting the projected Pentagon budget by 15%
over 10 years.
That's a fact to be celebrated -- and defended -- not mourned.Cross-posted from Just Foreign Policy