Editorial: Does debt ultimatum mean pain will be shared?
It's not hard to understand why U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans are playing chicken with the nation's debt limit, insisting on serious spending cuts in exchange for their support in raising it. They're merely using the leverage they have.
To Boehner's line in the sand that "cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given," fine. Oh, we think Boehner is living on Neptune if he believes that will result in $2 trillion in cuts - that's how much Congress raised the debt ceiling in 2010 - as it took all both sides could muster to get to $38 billion in savings while largely sparing their own sacred cows when Uncle Sam was at its budget brink little more than a month ago.
Nonetheless, if he's had a change of heart and is willing to slaughter some of his own livestock now, he should go for it, take one for the team.
Indeed, if Head Start and food stamps can be slashed, surely subsidies for wealthy farmers in his Ohio can stand much closer examination. If Occidental Petroleum could afford to pay its CEO $76.1 million in 2010, surely the oil company he runs doesn't need welfare from Uncle Sam.
In any case, tax hikes for the wealthy - such as Occidental's CEO - must be off the table, because that "will destroy jobs," said Boehner, who apparently still believes in "trickle down," which the numbers show was more theory than reality in the last decade. Again, fine. We don't want to fire any shots in the war between the classes in this country, no sir (though at corporate compensation like the above, one does wonder which side started it). It is fair, however, to ask just how many people could be hired at Occidental for the $76.1 million they pay one man, or for the 12 percent hike the average U.S. CEO got last year. When was the last time America's middle class got a double-digit wage bump, or any at all?
Hey, just asking.
Beyond that Boehner doesn't care for the White House's idea of creating "triggers" that would force automatic spending cuts or even tax increases if the bickering parties can't get their act together to meet their deficit reduction goals. What some would see as motivation to do what must be done, apparently Boehner doesn't want to surrender that control. So who does? For now the Speaker seems to have moved off privatizing Medicare to having "honest conversations" about how to reform it. A few visits from elderly constituents over the last break, perhaps?
Not just us but Boehner's own church has begun to detect a certain bias in his political behavior. In advance of his upcoming commencement address at Catholic University of America, 75 professors there wrote to the Speaker about their observation that his "record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress," which is "at variance from one of the Church's most ancient moral teachings."
Ultimately, we trust even John Boehner does not want to risk America's default on its loans and the ripple effect that may invite. He's right to push for less and more disciplined spending. Democrats can be a one-trick pony where tax increases are concerned. But what's fair is fair, in pain and gain, and it's time for Republicans and Democrats alike to deliver.
Peoria, Ill., Journal Star