Alexander Bolton reports that "With Supercommittee Deadlocked, leaders Reid and Boehner meet", The Hill (Nov. 15, 2011). Reid (Dem) and Boehner (GOP) met Tuesday, but aides told The Hill that "They're not about to dive in" to the negotiations. But as the committee seems to be at an impasse close to the 11/23 deadline, the leaders must be discussing what is likely to be the next step. The arrangements for the group (in case no bipartisan deal could be reached) called for across-the-board cuts that impose reasonable cuts on Defense but limited cuts for social safety net/earned benefit programs (medicare limited to 2% cuts to insurance companies and health care providers/Social Security and Medicaid exempt).
The GOP members, of course, are casting it as a Dem problem. For example, Hensarling (a very far right member of the group, from Texas) blamed the Dems for not accepting the Toomey proposal for a piddling $300 billion in new tax revenue. With Supercommittee Deadlocked, leaders Reid and Boehner meet.
The across-the-board cuts would cut Defense by $500 billion. Various GOP members of Congress have said they want to change the deal to avoid the cuts to the military. Tea Party favorite and radical right-winger Jim DeMint has essentially admitted that he never intended to stick with the sequester deal, saying that the GOP has "until next election to fix this thing." GOP stalwarts want the US to maintain its exorbitant spending as "the world's only military superpower" even while being willing to cut health care and pensions to the vulnerable and even while the country's infrastructure--essential for business--crumbles in ruins. McCain and Graham urged the Senate to reject the sequester of military funds, fearful it would "set off a swift decline of the United States as the world's leading military power." Dems gain upper hand in deficit talks, The Hill (Nov. 16, 2011). This attitude seems to believe that defense spending, no matter what the cost to the country, is okay, while spending on poor people is a waste and raising taxes on the rich is an impossibility. Apparently GOP McKeon considered that possibility, but then later backtracked. Certainly, Grover Norquist has been making sure the pressure is on from the corporate masters of our pseudo-democracy--the Hill notes Norquist's statement Monday that both Senate and House GOP leaders had "assured him they would not raise taxes to reduce the deficit." Id.
So we have elected representatives in Congress who willfully ignore the will of the majority of people in favor of higher taxes and higher taxes on the rich and corporations in particular; ignore the facts that show that higher taxes on the rich and a more equal economy are better for everybody; and ignore the fact that their own policies (preemptive war and tax cuts during deficits from 2001-2008 under Bush) represent the substantial reason for long-term deficits--all in order to continue to support extraordinarily disproportionate spending on the military rather than on public infrastructure, education and health and in order to be able to continue to use the self-created "debt crisis" to push for further impoverization of America's middle class. What a backwards value system that represents can't be expressed in a public blog.
But at least Reid has said that method of reneging on the agreement won't be allowed to happen: "Democrats aren't going to take an unfair, unrealistic load directed toward domestic discretionary spending and take it away from the military." See Id.; see also Reid: Dems will oppose efforts to spare Defense from automatic cuts, The Hil (Nov. 14, 2011).
As one of the commenters on The Hill notes (quoting an NPR program), the supercommittee is set up to force one of two bad choices--reducing the social safety net or cutbacks during economic recession. What we should be doing is increasing taxes now on the rich and on corporations, and then allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of next year--in their entirety. We should make judicious spending cuts in wasteful programs--and the military certainly should be a target of some of those cuts. And we should make judicious spending increases in infrastructure, research and educational support programs to add stimulus to keep the economy going.
Case in point--the New York Times story today about a small town in Kentucky that decided to increase taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements that are putting the two back on the map.