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Can-kicking, bullet-dodging and sausage-making


Published:   |   Updated: October 25, 2013 at 02:57 PM

Yes, I plan to employ all three hackneyed clichés above and several more in this column as befits the inanities coming out of politicians' mouths.

For more than two weeks Americans were exposed to government sausage-.making. And it's just about as gross as the real thing; maybe worse because the sausage makers can't stand one another. On top of which the expiration date on the sausage loaf they left us is Jan. 15. What makes anyone believe after three years of dodging fiscal bullets negotiations will succeed this time?

There are at least five elements at play today that make any “grand bargain” impossible, and there are simply not enough potty-trained congressmen to do more than continue to kick the can.

One: The population is rapidly graying and will put greater strain on Social Security and Medicare. Even if those earned benefits are preserved for current and soon-to-be seniors there will be less left for the next generation. And that generation is barely scraping by. There is no way the majority of Gen-Xers can make up for proposed reductions to future entitlements by increasing their savings as Republicans insinuate. Democrats rightly won't budge on protecting benefits.

Two: According to the Congressional Budget Office, public debt as a percentage of GDP is about 73 percent and if nothing changes is on track to hit 100 percent by 2038. By then, federal spending would increase to 26 percent of economic output compared to the 40-year average of about 21 percent. Republicans rightly won't budge on spending caps.

Three: As for balancing the budget Democrats insist on increased revenue in the form of higher taxes on the wealthy or from closing tax loopholes. Republicans insist on no new taxes, reductions to entitlements and only revenue-neutral tax reform.

Four: The tea party comprises less than a quarter of the population, but because of heavily gerrymandered Republican districts it has inordinate influence in the House what with its ability to turn out its base in primaries and its access to massive amounts of cash from ultra- right-wing groups like Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and the Koch brothers. One hundred and forty-four House Republicans opposed their own leadership and voted against reopening government and paying the country's bills, in many cases out of fear of being “primaried.” That's a majority of House Republicans who will reject any compromise Democrats could live with.

Five: Powerful lobbies such as the AARP, mortgage lenders, major charities, energy companies, agribusiness, defense contractors and labor unions will resist any meddling with their sacred cash cows, be they entitlements, tax breaks, corporate subsidies, government contracts or federal wages and benefits.

This crisis calls for some soul searching. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. This was a wake-up call to stop those with a gun pointed at our heads from hijacking the future. We must work 24-7 for a win-win solution.

OK, last one: We are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.

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