Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nevada Republicans' Other Great Divide

I know we've already been talking about the big "game change" mining tax State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) offered since yeterday. However, there's one more angle to this story that should be further examined. Let's get to that.

After a decade of struggles on the matter, at least some Nevada Republicans are finally coming to the table on tax reform. Somewhere out there, the late great Governor Kenny Guinn is smiling. A breakthrough may be near.

Will someone please explain this to Mark Amodei? He really shouldn't need one, since Amodei himself proposed "The Mother of All Tax Hikes" in 2003. And that ultimately passed as an alternative to Kenny Guinn's preferred plan. When he was in Carson City, Amodei seemed to have no problem wheeling & dealing on taxes.

Yet now that Amodei represents Carson City and the rest of Northern Nevada in Congress, he's suddenly changed his tune. Nowadays, Mark Amodei just loves the pointless and counterproductive drama of Congress' manufactured crises.

Of course, Amodei claims that what he experienced in Carson City is far different from what he's now experiencing in Washington. And he's correct. It's just that it's different because of constant "tea party" fueled Republican obstruction.

Here's Steve Benen with some much needed unspinning of the latest manufactured crisis.

As the Speaker sees it, this never-ending series of crises that he and his party have created -- on purpose -- is necessarily a bad thing. But, Boehner argues, he and his party have no choice but to deliberately impose these punishments on the country "because of the president's reluctance to cut spending."

There are, of course, two glaring problems here. The first is that President Obama has already cut spending by about $1.5 trillion, which is a heck of a lot more than Republican policymakers cut during the Bush/Cheney era when folks like Boehner simply put new expenses on the national charge card. Obama has also offered hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts, as part of a bipartisan compromise, which the GOP refuses to consider.

The second is that disagreements over spending are not much of an excuse --Boehner's argument, in effect is, "We'll stop hurting Americans the moment the president gives us what we want." The fact that the House Speaker doesn't see the flaws in saying this out loud is disconcerting.

What's more, Boehner wants "the Senate to finally do their work," which is to say, Boehner's House is still not willing to do any work at all. As the Speaker probably knows by now -- he can struggle at times with substantive details, but I'm sure someone has probably explained this to him -- most of the Senate already supports a compromise fiscal plan. It would be finished were it not for a Republican filibuster, which prevents passage.

The last paragraph is for Dean Heller. While he's now trying to pose as "moderate", Heller voted to filibuster a resolution to this latest manufactured crisis.

Funny enough, Dean Heller also served in the Nevada Legislature. And he was Secretary of State in 2003, so he must remember that time well. So why is he taking such a hard line against any compromise on revenue in Washington?

I'm sure Heller will also claim it's just different. And he's correct. However, Jamelle Bouie has the facts ready to refute any further spin from Heller's camp on Capitol Hill's latest manufactured crisis.

Democrats, including President Obama, have consistently acted to cut the deficit and reduce spending. As part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, Democrats agreed to over $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years. This was followed by $600 billion in new revenue as a result of the “fiscal cliff” deal, and then another $700 billion in interest savings. Altogether --excluding the sequester -- Congress and the White House have passed nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction. When you include sequestration -- which amounts to $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts -- that jumps to almost $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction. That comes close to the full amount of deficit reduction pushed by debt hawks like Alan Simpson and Erksine Bowles.

It should be said that Democrats are right --the United States doesn’t have a spending problem. The massive deficits of the last four years are a product of the Great Recession and our slow recovery. With faster economic growth -- and lower unemployment -- a good deal of our deficit “problem” would disappear. And while we do have long-term spending challenges, those have less to do with new programs, and everything to do with growing health care costs and an aging population. The Republican push for entitlement cuts won’t do much to address that problem unless its also paired with real reforms to the health care system overall.

In any case, if Republicans aren’t going to agree that spending isn’t as big a problem as it looks, they should at least acknowledge that Democrats have been more than cooperative when it comes to reducing the size of government. That Republicans haven’t acknowledged this -- and likely won’t -- is a good sign that deficit reduction isn’t their real goal. Rather -- as outlined in the last three years of Republican budgets --they’re looking to dismantle key parts of the social safety net. Anything less is “too much spending.” There’s nothing Democrats can do -- short of abandoning their agenda, which is to defend the safety net -- to accommodate the GOP demand.

All of Nevada's Republicans in Congress have served in the Legislature. Remember that. And one (Amodei) didn't just vote for the 2003 tax deal, but he also created it! They all served in Carson City, so they all know how the legislative process is supposed to work.

Yet they're all forcing America to endure the same kind of stupid austerity that's kept Europe in an extended recession. Like that makes any sense (/snark). Perhaps they should take some queues from Michael Roberson on how to acknowledge a real fiscal problem... And how to offer a real solution.

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