With all President Barack Obama's lambasting of Republicans for supposedly "putting party before country," I honestly hadn't expected a Democrat to criticize conservative lawmakers more vehemently for their "intransigence" before the election but Senator John Kerry did on NBC's Meet the Press today.
Republicans, said Kerry, had made "the calculation politically" to block a comprehensive deficit reduction effort "to wait until next year and just write their own deal." The implication here being that Republicans would rather let America suffer another downgrade (a very real possibility) and leave the nation in uncertainty for a year than compromise with Democrats who, according to Kerry, were prepared to consider "huge, hard, tough, horrible reductions" in entitlement spending in order to get a deal.
Arizona senator Jon Kyl, who preceded Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press, said Republicans had actually put $250 billion in additional revenue on the table if it could be achieved by eliminating tax deductions and lowering the rates. It should be remembered that no industrialized nation besides Japan has a higher corporate tax rate than America.
Kerry said that wasn't true though and he lamented that Republicans weren't "living up to the sacrifice" nor "the level of commitment" shown by American soldiers who gave their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That's disgusting. For any one politician to "own" the troops and tell another he isn't living up to their "level of commitment" makes me physically uncomfortable. More so because it's not true.
Both Democrats and Republicans have been talking about deficit reduction. Both have been willing to cut spending and increase revenue to get a deal, first on the Simpson-Bowles commission, later in the Gang of Six in the Senate. It's true that Republicans don't want to raise taxes (and why should they?) and it's true that Democrats don't want to cut entitlement spending -- even as Medicare and Social Security are projected to run out of money in 2024 and 2036 respectively.
No long term deficit reduction effort can be undertaken without comprehensive entitlement reform. Kerry may have been willing to consider "horrible" reductions but his leaders haven't. President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have all three rejected the notion of balancing the budget "on the backs" of the elderly and the poor. They would rather raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" -- which is a fair choice but don't pretend you're not willing to make it when Republicans clearly have been.