Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heller's Unbalanced Agenda on Capitol Hill

Right now, people are getting frustrated. Voters are angry. Occupiers are marching all over the country. Americans are looking for real solutions on the issue most on our minds: JOBS (and how to create more of them).

Considering all this, what is our junior Senator doing in Washington? This. And why is he doing it?

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) would very much like to have the so-called Balanced Budget Amendment emerge as a major topic in the 2012 elections. One reason to call reporters and ask, “How does my opponent stand on the Balanced Budget Amendment?” is to enroll the press in the campaign by getting members of the media to ask the question of said opponent, and then get the results into print or on the air. It’s a game everyone plays. Some more subtly than others.

Another reason to launch the topic is that it polls well. Polling nationwide supposedly shows significant support for the idea, although few seem to appreciate the implications of this political gimmick. The air might be taken out of this trial balloon if proponents like Senator Heller were asked, “Do you favor the following cuts to federal programs?”

Yep, just as I was saying yesterday. And just as I was saying yesterday, beneath the surface the BBA is not really all that popular. Greg Sargent pointed this out earlier this week.

* The public opposes the supercommittee “making hundreds of millions of dollars in spending cuts to Medicare and Medicare through increasing beneficiary costs,” 76-19. A majority, 52 percent, strongly opposes these cuts.

* The public supports the supercommittee “increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations,” 66-31. A majority, 52 percent, strongly support these tax increases. [...]

But again, on the hot button issue of entitlements cuts, the public has said No. Indeed, the poll also finds opposition to changing the calculation of Social Security to lower benefits, 56-38.

I’m not sure how else to put this. The super committee is likely to fail. But it won’t be because the American people haven’t made their preferences on how to reduce the deficit very, very clear. They have. If deficit reduction comes down to a choice between who sacrifices — the wealthy and corporations on the one hand, or Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries on the other — Americans think the sacrifice should be made by the former, not the latter.

And there we have it. The Supercommittee that we were all forced into when the G-O-TEA held the nation hostage is set to fall apart because that very G-O-TEA faction can't get its act together on taxes. It's obvious to all the rest of us that tax reform needs to happen in order to fix the budget, but that just isn't acceptable in "Tea Party Fantasyland".

So G-O-TEA leaders in Congress are now trying to save face by bringing back the "Balanced Budget Amendment". Of course, what they don't want us to know is that they have no real interest in doing that. Not even their own Republican budget proposals meet BBA standards! And considering they want no new tax revenue, instead they would have to rely upon Social Security cuts, Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, student aid cuts, and even more devastating slashing and burning of the American social safety net to even get close to BBA standards.

Again, if Dean Heller cared so much about balancing the budget, why won't he tell his fellow Congressional Republicans to let the Bush tax rates expire? And why won't he support closing the many "billionaire bailouts" found in our corporate tax code? Why does he keep wanting to attack seniors, the disabled, and college students in the name of "balancing the budget"?

Oh, and why are we even talking about this crap when people are still out of work? Where are the JOBS? If Heller cared so much about what's really bothering Nevadans, why won't he even allow an up or down vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act?

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