Jess Chapman

The lost virtues of Washington

In Fail of the Week on March 31, 2012 at 8:00 am

It’s time once again for The Future American’s FAIL OF THE WEEK! Every Saturday, I name a person or group who has spent the past seven days behaving in a particularly idiotic way. Since it’s my belief that idiocy knows no politics, nobody is safe.

This week’s fail was brought to you by the 382 members of Congress who voted against a bill that revived the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission. (The article insists on calling it the Bowles-Simpson commission, but my version rolls off so much more nicely.) I’m not entirely surprised; look at the recommendations and tell me if you’d vote for it.

  • $200 billion in cuts to discretionary spending, including a 15 percent cut to defense procurement;
  • $100 billion in new tax revenue, mostly through closing loopholes, but also through a 15 percent-per-gallon gas tax;
  • health care cost controls, including the institution of the public option;
  • a corporate tax rate reduction, for the sake of international competitiveness;
  • and entitlement reductions ranging from Social Security to military pensions.

Everyone has a pet project in there somewhere. Democrats approve of the revenue increase and defense cuts, but not the entitlement cuts or corporate tax reduction. Republicans have the reverse of that view. But what about those who just want to bring the debt down and have little to no compelling preferences of how to do it? Because that describes a hell of a lot of us in the centrist/independent community.

But the true failure lies in the rest of the article. More than one Beltway insider, independently of one another, admits that the political risks of bills like this are viewed as insurmountable, and that only a true crisis will be enough to spark “courageous” voting. Such was the case with the bank bailout, which nobody liked but accepted as necessary for the time. We still slag them for not taking preventative measures long before that.

History has repeated itself within four years. The successor to the Simpson-Bowles commission, known fondly here as USConJointSelComDefRed, literally gave up on finding a workable debt reduction plan. The Simpson-Bowles version is the workable debt reduction plan, and only 38 members of Congress have the cojones to support it. Are the others unable to comprehend the political risks of letting this behavior continue?

It seems that courage is a lost virtue in Washington, along with compromise, strength of character, long-range thinking and prudence. Considering no one has come forward to rebut the above piece – and don’t tell me they haven’t read it; it’s from the Washington Post – so is brutal honesty.

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