Social Security hasn’t contributed a penny to the deficit, it’s not going broke, and it’s not an “entitlement.” But Senator Patty Murray, who is co-chair of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, said on Oct 5 that “everything” is on the table as possible cuts as her committee begins searching for an agreement to avert another government shutdown. See Patty Murray: Super Committee Considering All Options.
According to Crosscut’s Downward deficit: How Patty Murray will negotiate the next budget crisis,
During a phone call Friday, [Senator Murray’s] communications director Matt McAlvanah said Murray will use Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin as something of a litmus test for deficit reduction proposals. He acknowledged that Murray “looks for smart entitlement cuts.” It’s an open question (and a tough conversation) whether Democrats will agree with her, he said.
The sad thing is that Democrats usually compromise early. In this case they’ve already offered up Social Security, the core of the New Deal, to the ravening Republican wolves. But Republicans still haven’t agree to even consider raising revenue.
Almost all Republican federal lawmakers have signed the Norquist pledge against raising taxes. In the current, 113th Congress, 229 representatives and 39 senators have signed the pledge (source). Here’s the pledge:
I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _____district of the state of _________ and to the American people that I will:One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; andTwo, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
Does it leave any wiggle room? Opposition to taxation is at the core of Republican ideology. The other co-chair of the deficit reduction committee is Sen. Paul Ryan, and nine of the Republicans on the committee voted against the compromise that ended the government shutdown.
So it’s hard to imagine Republicans ever agreeing to raise taxes. Furthermore, I can’t imagine that Democrats would agree to sacrifice Social Security or Medicare unless Republicans budge on revenue. So expect another government shutdown in a few months.
Even if, by some miracle, Republicans agreed to raise revenue, many Democrats and labor activists have, with good reason, promised to oppose the re-election of any Democratic lawmaker who agrees to cut Social Security (including the Chained-CPI cuts). For example, see King County Dems resolve to withhold endorsement from candidates who advocate cuts to Social Security.
The tax loopholes and giveaways that are on the books are big enough to drive an aircraft carrier fleet and 1000 fat cat hedge fund managers through. Congress needs to cut the bloated military budget, as well as the NSA. Congress wasted trillions of dollars on the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to PolitFact, the US has approximately 900 military bases in 130 countries. The US spends between 40% and 45% of total world military spending (source). Can we afford to be the policeman of the world? The New Yorker editorialized this week that the IRS is chronically underfunded, even though for every one dollar spent on tax collection, seven dollars is earned in tax revenue.
The federal government is rife with corruption and mismanagement, and Republicans and many (conservative) Democrats like it that way.
But the trillion dollar question is: will Patty Murray be more concerned about Boeing contracts than about seniors and the Democratic Party platform?
According to AlterNet’s article Supercommittee Co-Chair Patty Murray Accepts Award from Defense Industry As She Mulls Cuts To Pentagon Budget:
Murray’s individual take in defense industry donations since 2007 is greater than the combined total of the top four supercommittee Republican recipients. … No member of the supercommittee, and no lawmaker in all of Washington, DC, received more donations from Boeing than Murray. Of the $3.2 million the defense giant dispersed to lawmakers in 2009-2010, the Washington Democrat received $85,860, a full $20,000 more than was donated to the next two largest congressional recipients of Boeing money combined.
Furthet relevant articles:
- Murray touts Boeing jobs in campaign ad
“Sen. Murray has been a true advocate and champion for the Boeing Co. and for our 75,000 Washington-based employees throughout her three terms, and therefore we support her in her reelection bid,” said company spokesman Doug Kennett, reading a statement.”
What makes this an especially tough issue for progressives is that union members who work for Boeing are likely to support military spending.
Of course, the other important Democrat who is likely to support the Pentagon over seniors is the President.
The political situation is grim in America, and unless constituents speak up and demand progressive solutions, things will get grimmer. Here’s the contact information for Senator Murray:
Washington, D.C. Office
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2621
Fax: (202) 224-0238
Toll Free: (866) 481-9186
Everett, Washington 98201
Phone: (425) 259-6515
Fax: (425) 259-7152
1323 Officer’s Row
Vancouver, Washington 98661
Phone: (360) 696-7797
Fax: (360) 696-7798
Yakima, Washington 98901
Phone: (509) 453-7462
Fax: (509) 453-7731
915 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98174
Phone: (206) 553-5545
Toll Free: (866) 481-9186
Fax: (206) 553-0891
Spokane, Washington 99201
Phone: (509) 624-9515
Fax: (509) 624-9561
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (253) 572-9488