Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Callling All Suckers

I wish I owned beachfront property in Arizona available for purchase.   I would have a lawyer prepare a proposal, fax it to Brian Beutler of (the liberal) Talking Points Memo, and he would agree to my asking price.

I don't know Beutler and this isn't personal- it's professional.   He writes (or types)

The very real possibility that defense programs will suffer deep, across the board spending cuts early next year has major defense contractors and their allies making an unusual plea to members of Congress: Put everything on the table to avoid the so-called sequester — including higher taxes.

That might not sound like an extraordinary ask. But it’s typical for incumbent interests to leave all questions of ways and means to Congress. And given the defense industry’s enormous power and historic alignment with the GOP, it could have enough force to finally break the GOP of its anti-tax absolutism.

A House Armed Services Committee hearing two weeks ago first exposed the rift. Under questioning from Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), two major defense contractors acknowledged that the GOP’s refusal to consider higher revenues was not conducive to solving the looming budget crisis.

As one might expect from the classic centrist southern New Jersey Democrat, Andrews already is gearing up to compromise before Republicans have moved even an inch.   He remarked

I do think you’re going to see a coalition of responsible people emerge — unfortunately it’s going to be in the lame duck, not prior — that’s going to support entitlement support that Democrats don’t want, revenue increases that Republicans don’t want, but deficit reduction that everybody wants, without mindless, across the board cuts in programs.

Beutler, heartened, continues

Early indications support that view. A group of Republicans led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have proposed staving off or eliminating the sequester with a package that could include revenue from higher service fees and tax loophole closures, but not from rate increases.

Graham’s leadership isn’t on board at the moment, but they sense the danger.

“We’ve got to come to a resolution on the issue before the lame duck,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) — the minority whip and an ardent anti-tax Republican — at a press conference in late July. “If we do not, the pressure to make a deal in context of raising all the tax rates to prevent the fiscal cliff Jan. 1 will be so great that I’m afraid defense will wind up suffering or we’ll have to end up raising taxes to an extent that harms the economy.” 

Yes, Jon Kyl wants to come to a resolution- on Republican terms.    And as far as we know, that sentiment is shared by Lindsey Graham.    Anxious to maintain obscene, deficit-busting defense expenditures, the South Carolina Republican teases Beutler (and some Democrats) by floating the possibility of higher service fees and tax loophole closures.    On July 10, Graham had stated "if Republicans would put some revenue on the table- it's $110 billion we have to offset in 2013.  So McCain and I are trying to find some revenue from the Toomey-supercommittee-Gang of Six-Biden-Kyl talks where we could put revenue (on the table) by closing deductions or selling properties, increasing fees."  (Finally, someone liking hyphens even more than do I.)

Call me crazy, but I don't think Graham and company are talking about lowering the rate on taxes, which Americans are paying at their lowest rate in 60 years.     They are talking about "increasing fees," which in most cases would hit the middle class more than the wealthy.    And they are talking about "selling properties," transferring- probably at bargain-basement rates- assets from the public sector to the private sector.   And, according to Beutler, they are talking "loophole closures," probably ending the deductions most beneficial to the middle class.

Hinting at their generosity to the middle class and their commitment to cutting the deficit, congressional Republicans and President Obama now are all giddy about enacting a highly lucrative tax break to Olympic gold medal winners, who soon will be exploiting their athletic prowess to assume million-dollar endorsement contracts.    Stick it to ordinary taxpayers and encourage growth in the deficit in one fell swoop- it doesn't get any better than that.

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