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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

 
They can't stop flogging deficits

by digby

And they won't stop talking about them no matter what the numbers say.
[Jack] Lew was a guest speaker at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council on Tuesday, a gathering of business leaders hosted at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Weighing-in on the budget negotiations between House and Senate conferees, Lew said he doesn’t want to get ahead of the process but believes President Barack Obama’s budget blueprint is the way forward.

Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget to Congress in April that includes a mixture of tax increases on the wealthy and controversial cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The aim of the White House’s plan is to reap $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade and replace the sequester spending cuts that took effect in March. It would also reduce the cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.

“I think the president’s budget is a blueprint that were we to follow it would give the
The secretary said that the bipartisan group of negotiators could produce many possibilities by the Dec. 13 deadline, but that an agreement will be a good sign to the public.

“I actually think that anything they do to show that they can work together … would instill some confidence both in the process and in the substance,” he said. “The challenge of doing something really big is that both sides have to do something really hard.

“We’ve made clear that in order to do the kind of entitlement reforms that are in the president’s budget it would require moving a tax reform and raising some additional revenue,” Lew added. “If that’s not a possibility for the Republicans then something large is not likely. But there’s other ways for these conferees to work things out but I’ll leave it to them.”
Yes, yes, yes. I am duly scolded for highlighting this since it's obvious the Republicans will never agree so it's pretty much a moot point. And Lew admits that they will probably only be able to get a less ambitious budget through this congress. So why does the administration put this "entitlement reform for revenue" plan forward in every, single public forum making it plain they believe "deficit reduction" is the key to future prosperity and this ridiculous formulation is the painless way to achieve it?

If the president's budget is as dead on arrival as everyone says, then maybe the president and his people should put it in the trash bin where it belongs and stop using it as the one true north of "responsible" adults. It's a dangerous document that's going to take years, if not decades, to shed from the Democratic party's economic platform. The policy of cutting the hell out of everything for some useless temporary chump change in the lobbyist playground known as the tax code is now "reasonable Democratic centrist" dogma and I don't know what it's going to take to get them to recognize that it's killing any hope for decent economic policy.

Update: At the same event the president reportedly said he (and Republicans) want to do "entitlement reform" so clearly he's on the same page.



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