Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Iowa Unanimously Rejects the Debt Ceiling Compromise

In a spirit of bipartisan unanimity, here's how the seven members of Iowa's congressional delegation voted on the debt ceiling compromise:

In the U.S. House of Representatives:

Bruce Braley (D) - No
Dave Loebsack (D) - No
Leonard Boswell (D) - No
Tom Latham (R) - No
Steve King (R) - No

In the U.S. Senate:

Charles Grassley (R) - No
Tom Harkin (D) - No

Despite the objections of the Iowans, the compromise passed 269-161 in the House and 76-24 in the Senate.

No, I doubt that Iowa will secede from the Union over this issue. To suggest such a thing in Iowa would get you hung from the nearest Defenders of the Union monument. But I predict we will have cause to see some "Don't blame me, I'm from Iowa" bumber stickers.

Here are some problems with the compromise:

(1) Congress punted on spending cuts, turning over the hard decisions to a commmittee of twelve: 3 Senate Republicans, 3 Senate Democrats, 3 House Republicans, and 3 House Democrats. That's a jury of their peers, not ours.

(2) The spending cut jury is charged with reaching its verdict by November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. The House and Senate then have to vote on the jury verdict by December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. That will ruin two national holidays.

(3) At the outset of this process, President Obama set a goal of finding $3 trillion in spending cuts. At this point only $900 million in spending cuts have been approved, and the jury is charged with finding only $1 to $1.5 trillion more. That leaves a lot of needed spending cuts on the table.

(4) The compromise puts off a vote on the admittedly poorly-drafted balanced budget amendment to October, before the final spending cut verdict has been announced, virtually ensuring its defeat. If passed now, the ratification process could have begun.

(5) The stock market is already voting with its feet. It fell in anticipation of the compromise, it fell even more after its announcement. The smart money realizes that even if Congress eventually approves the full $2.4 trillion in budget cuts, that is only a quarter of what's needed to get the budget back into balance. What's actually approved is only a dime.

The spinsters in the administration have Barack Obama answering critics with this bit of wisdom:

"But this compromise does make a serious down payment on the deficit reduction we need, and gives each party a strong incentive to get a balanced plan done before the end of the year."
That's all it is, 10% down on a big problem the politicians really don't want to tackle. The deficit problem was there last December, it was there in March, and in June, and now in August. It will still be there in November and December and in November 2012. It isn't going away.

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