There’s a saying in the sports world about how last-minute comebacks are examples of “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.”
I don’t like that phrase because it reminds me of the painful way my beloved Georgia Bulldogs were defeated a couple of weeks ago by Auburn.
But I also don’t like the saying because it describes what Obama and other advocates of big government must be thinking now that Republicans apparently are about to do the opposite and “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
More specifically, the GOP appears willing to give away the sequester’s real and meaningful spending restraint and replace that fiscal discipline with a package of gimmicks and new revenues.
I warned last month that something bad might happen to the sequester, but even a pessimist like me didn’t envision such a big defeat for fiscal responsibility.
Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), chief negotiators for their parties, are closing in on a deal… At issue are efforts to craft a compromise that would ease across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in January, known as the sequester, and replace them with a mix of increased fees and cuts in mandatory spending programs.
But the supposed cuts wouldn’t include any genuine entitlement reform. And there would be back-door tax hikes.
Officials familiar with the talks say negotiators are stitching together a package of offsets to the planned sequester cuts that would include none of the major cuts in Medicare or other entitlement programs that Mr. Ryan has wanted… Instead, it would include more targeted and arcane measures, such as increased fees for airport-security and federal guarantees of private pensions.
But the package may get even worse before the ink is dry.
Democrats on Thursday stepped up their demands in advance of the closing days of negotiations between Ms. Murray and Mr. Ryan. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) brought a fresh demand to the table by saying she wouldn’t support any budget deal unless in included or was accompanied by an agreement to renew expanded unemployment benefits that expire before the end of the year—which would be a major threat to any deal.
Gee, wouldn’t that be wonderful. Not only may GOPers surrender the sequester and acquiesce to some tax hikes, but they might also condemn unemployed people to further joblessness and despair.
That’s even worse than the part of the plan that would increase taxes on airline travel to further subsidize the Keystone Cops of the TSA.
But look at the bright side…at least for DC insiders. If the sequester is gutted, that will be a big victory for lobbyists. That means they’ll get larger bonuses, which means their kids will have even more presents under the Christmas tree.
As for the rest of the nation? Well, you can’t make an omelet without scrambling a few eggs.
P.S. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that this looming agreement isn’t as bad as some past budget deals, such as the read-my-lips fiasco of 1990.