Friday, April 01, 2011

The Republican Media- No. 26

I would call him "corporate stooge" but we need to be objective here.

Soon after taking his Senate seat after he was elected last November, Republican Pat Toomey argued that we need not fear a default on the national debt. All we would need to do, as reflected in the Full Faith and Credit Act he proposed as an amendment to the FAA spending bill, is to pay bondholders (such as financial institutions and the Communist Chinese government) first.

Maybe that's why a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer (never viewed as conservative), referred on Friday to the former investment banker and business owner as having "emerged as the deficit hawk's deficit hawk."

Toomey's latest brainstorm is a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It would, Thomas Fitzgerald writes, prohibit the federal government from spending

more than the revenue it gets in any fiscal year, and total federal spending would be capped at 18 percent of the gross domestic product, the measure of all the U.S. economy's output.

(Utah Republican Senator) Hatch said that 18 percent was about the average rate of federal spending to GDP over the last 50 years; the rate now is approaching 25 percent.

While at first glance this is merely irresponsible, it is also a little phony. Fitzgerald notes "under Toomey's bill, Congress could run a deficit if two-thirds of the members of each house approved, but it would have to renew that vote every fiscal year."

Ah, an escape hatch (pun intended)- a balanced budget that doesn't mandate a balanced budget. But it gets worse, Fitzgerald mentioning

A simple majority could vote to override the balanced-budget requirement during a declared war. In the case of an undeclared "military conflict," three-fifths of Congress could suspend the limit, but could run a deficit only to finance the conflict.

The proposal also would require a supermajority vote - two-thirds of each house - to impose a new tax or raise the rate of an existing tax. Three-fifths of Congress would have to approve increasing the debt ceiling.

Three-fifths of Congress could suspend the limit in the case of an undeclared military conflict. For those who just landed from planet Neptune, the U.S.A. currently is involved in three (3) military conflicts. A deficit could not be run to fund women's health, cleanup of toxic waste sites, mass transit to reduce our dependence on carbon fuels, or veterans..... or anything except war. Moreover, because three-fifths of Congress would have to approve a tax increase, services would have to evaporate, given that raising taxes would require about a three-fourths majority of Democrats in each chamber. Republicans could, of course, be part of a three-fifths majority but, they would have to apologize to Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh, overcome their allergy to anything requiring a sacrifice by millionaires, and beat back a primary challenge. Not going to happen.

It would, however, please defense contractors and as a former head of the Club for Greed Growth, Pat Toomey never met a CEO who would not send a tingle up his leg.

And in part for this, Senator Toomey is bequeathed the monikor of "the deficit hawk's deficit hawk." This for a guy who is willing to run up spending for any military adventure and is so allergic to paying for government spending that, as Joe Sestak charged and PolitiFact largely confirmed last year, is opposed to any and all corporate taxation.

We've seen it all before: pander to your corporate base, declare yourself a deficit hawk, push tax cuts for millionaires and corporations, and be rewarded by a characterization as a "deficit hawk." Good political branding if you can buy it, and with the corporate media it comes free.

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