Fiscal Cliff: House Republican Proposal Abandons Core Principles, Gains Little

John Boehner SC Fiscal Cliff: House Republican Proposal Abandons Core Principles, Gains Little

Photo Credit: Medill DC (Creative Commons)

The House Republican leadership has offered a substantive counteroffer to President Obama’s frivolous fiscal cliff proposal of last week. At first blush, it appears little more than categorical, pre-emptive capitulation.

To be fair, the details of the Republican proposal are extraordinarily vague. Nor is much clarity or comfort gained from the three-page accompanying letter sent to the President and signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and three other senior members of the House Republican leadership.

Much can and likely will come out in the days ahead clarifying what a few figures and labels on a single sheet of paper mean. One can only hope the additional clarity substantially improves the picture. However, it is very difficult to be hopeful.

The fiscal cliff contrived by President Obama and the Congress over the past two years creates a tremendous opportunity for Republicans and Democrats alike to come together on some simple yet profound, widely understood and commonsense reforms to the real drivers of the nation’s fiscal troubles—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Beyond disappointing, the House Republican counteroffer appears at best to suggest incremental tweaks to these programs. Without real entitlement reform—not just spending cuts—we will never fix the underlying problem.

Real, substantive reforms are badly needed, as the Boehner letter affirms in observing “these reforms are, in our view, absolutely essential to addressing the true drivers of our debt.” They then go on to observe, “we recognize it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support” (emphasis added). Rarely in modern American politics have more counterproductive, more foolish words been set to paper.

Read More at .By Alison Acosta Fraser and J.D. Foster.

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