Rumors are that a deal’s a cookin’.
Rumors are it’s for $3 trillion in spending cuts, with revenue increases to be adopted later. Or to be adopted now. Or maybe not adopted at all.
As the Washington Post reports, that latter possibility has Senate Democrats up in arms:
After what was described as a rambunctious hour-long meeting with Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced that his caucus opposes what he called the “agreement, potential agreement” because the outlines so far do not include sufficient guarantees of increased tax revenues.
“There’s no agreement. They’re working toward an agreement,” he said, adding that he received a call from a White House official during the meeting that confirmed the president had not reached a final agreement with Boehner.
The meeting included a presentation by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew, who was pilloried by Democrats who contended that Obama was giving away deep cuts to entitlements without any agreement on taxes. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), while declining to address the specifics of Lew’s talks, said she opposed the White House direction and instead would continue to support the option offered by Reid and McConnell — a backup plan to raise the debt ceiling in three phases over more than a year.
Reid said his caucus would oppose any plan that did not include increased tax revenue, questioning whether Obama had gone back on his pledge to include “balance” in the final deal.
“The president always talked about balance, that there had to be some fairness in this, that this can’t be all cuts,” Reid said. “There has to be a balance. There has to be some revenue and cuts. My caucus agrees with that. I hope that the president sticks with that. I’m confident that he will.”
I wish I could say that I was as confident as Reid claims to be.
On the other hand, Grover Norquist has made an interesting statement to the Post editorial board, stating point blank that a deal allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would not be considered a tax increase and thus not in violation of the pledge taken by so many Republicans.
“Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” he said.
So does it violate the pledge?
“We wouldn’t hold it that way.”
The Post has released an audiotape of the discussion, just to ensure that there’s no doubt about what Norquist said. And there isn’t.
Later, though, Americans for Tax Reform did a moonwalk on those statements:
“ATR opposes all tax increases on the American people. Any failure to extend or make permanent the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, in whole or in part, would clearly increase taxes on the American people. It is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to trade temporary tax reductions for permanent tax hikes.”
So who the hell knows?
I do know I’m going fishing next week and will be totally out of touch with the real world beginning Saturday. When we come off the river July 30, I guess we’ll see what’s left standing.
– Jay Bookman