If the austerity bomb goes off at midnight as seems likely at the moment, what excuse do Democrats use for continuing negotiations with this Congress?
The incoming Congress will be sworn in January 3rd, 3 days from now. Democrats have gained 9 seats, though not a majority, in the House, and added 2 in the Senate.
The legislation set to expire January 1st will have expired.
Just what do they hope to accomplish in 3 days that they could not address at their leisure?
Someone less charitable than I would suggest that there are 2 other clocks running, one is on the fiction that Democrats are at a tremendous disadvantage and must accept any deal they can get from those dastardly (and make no mistake, they are dastardly) Republicans.
The other is on the fiction that the debt and defict really are increasing and require drastic cuts to our earned benefits and social insurance programs to solve. Each day that passes reduces it even now and the trend will only accelerate with the expiration of the Bush/Obama tax cuts.
Yes, this is austerity and the economy as a whole will take a hit and many people will be negatively effected by cuts in government expenditures for domestic and military programs.
However it should make it painfully obvious that the problem is not deficts or debt at all but instead growth, employment, and income inequality.
In any event it is not the time to let up on the message that no deal is better than a bad one.
To The Phones
No cuts to Social Security.
Gaius Publius @ Americablog offers this helpful digest-
What are we protecting?
We’re protecting three social insurance programs. These are:
¦ Social Security
What are we protecting them from? Anything that:
¦ Reduces benefits
¦ Turns the program from insurance to welfare (which only the “deserving” have access to)
How are these programs being threatened?
As near as I can tell, these are the threats. Note to foxes – this is the hands-off list. Each of these seven items is a benefit cut:
1. Raising the retirement age
2. Chained CPI instead of current COLA
3. Means-testing benefits
4. Raising the eligibility age
5. Increasing Part B premiums
6. Increasing “cost-sharing”
7. Shifting costs to the states by any means, such as “federal blended rate,” etc.