Washington has a notoriously Byzantine manner of getting things done, but if his new subcommittee is ordered to write out new legislation reforming the tax code as part of a super-committee deal, Senator Tom Coburn will wield enormous influence. After all, he has a comprehensive plan ready to go. If that is the scenario that ultimately plays out, it will be fascinating to see the response of special interests, business lobbyists, and advocacy groups --- can they maintain their hold over a Congress newly determined, and chagrined after the nation's credit downgrade, to begin finding a long-term solution to America's debt problem?
Entries in Tom Coburn (6)
With the usual disclaimer that it could all change tomorrow, there is hope that the adults in Washington can get beyond the "weasel" rhetoric and accusations of childishness to hammer out a deal that moderates on both sides can swallow as a necessary evil.
With four weeks to go before the US faces a possible default on its debt, there is still little sense of how President Obama will lead the country out of the public finances mess the nation faces. It defies belief that the Administration does not have some kind of long-term strategy to ensure that America pays its bills come 2 August, but quite what that plan is nobody outside the Administration could claim to know for sure.
One disturbing possibility to begin considering is that Obama is privy to information that the crisis in America's finances is worse than thought --- his seeming reluctance to get fully involved in the debate is, in fact, a masterful attempt to avoid spooking the markets before a Band-aid can be slapped on the problem. That is pure speculation, but it says something about the ineffectiveness of the President that the only way to take some cold comfort from his performance is to imagine an even worse scenario.
An ideological clash looms over the reality that health care costs are on an unsustainable upward curve. Both parties have different and deeply divergent opinions on how those costs should be controlled, but the Medicare Trustees Report unequivocally sets outs:
The sizable differences in projected Medicare cost levels between current law and the illustrative alternative scenario highlight the critical importance of finding ways to bring Medicare costs --- and health care costs in the U.S. generally --- more in line with society's ability to afford them.
Quite how that "critically important'"solution can be found in the existing political climate remains a mystery.
On Monday, the Tea Party Caucus held a meeting in Washington to discuss their potential approaches to a forthcoming vote, probably in June, on raising America's debt ceiling. No definite conclusion was reached by the Caucus, but here are the headline numbers, from the President's deficit reduction commission, that illustrate how the the debt burden in in the United States is forcing the political conversation in Washington....
In 2010, Federal Government spending was nearly 24% of the nation's GDP; a level not seen since the days of WWII. To cover this spending, the government raised tax revenues of 15% of GDP. In total, the difference between spending and revenue in 2010 –-- the deficit –-- stood at 9% of the value of all the goods and services produced in the economy, or GDP.
During the recent controversy within the Republican Party over a ban on "earmark" funding, Senator Jim DeMint, the leading advocate of the moratorium, was able to call upon the support of a host of Tea Party and conservative blogs.
Now the battle gets specific. As DeMint turns his attention to the specific issue of subsidies for corn, media on the Right have been much quieter. At stake in the upcoming debate over the extension of tax credits for the use of ethanol (corn alcohol) in fuel are the same principles that drove the earmark battles, but this time politicians in corn-producing states may find themselves opposing a cut in Government spending.