November 25, 2012

Sunday School 11/25/12: Cliff Notes

Much of the talk on the Sunday news shows was about Washington getting back to work after the Thanksgiving break.  Most of us are hoping that our elected officials are not suffering a tryptophan hangover tomorrow, but rather that they're ready, willing, and able to tackle the 'fiscal cliff' issues before the end of the year. 
On Meet the Press (NBC), David Gregory had a conversation with Carl Levin (D-MI), and asked him 'how worried' should a person with a job in the defense industry be, given the automatic cuts to the military that come with sequestration in January if no deal is reached.  Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, responded
Well, I think you should be worried if you have a defense job, but we all ought to be worried whether we are dependent upon other aspects of the federal budget. Whether we’re worried about the regulation of our food safety, whether we’re worried about our borders being secure, whether we’re worried about FBI being supported? It’s all affected by sequestration.
Levin went on to talk about Grover Norquist, he of the 'pledge'.
The key here is whether or not the Republicans will move away from the ideologically rigid position, which has been the Grover Norquist pledge, which most of them signed, that they will not go for additional revenues. When they move away from that pledge, and they must, as by the way all the presidents that I have ever served with, including Reagan, Clinton, and the first George Bush, moved away from a position, no additional taxes. They’ve all added revenues to a deficit reduction, a significant amount of revenues.
Peter King, (R-NY) chimed in similarly, when asked whether he agreed with Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) that the country matters more than his 20-year old pledge not to raise taxes:
First of all, I agree entirely with Saxby Chambliss. A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress. For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed. And the economic situation is different. Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill realized that in the 1980s. I think everything should be on the table. I myself am opposed to tax increases. The fact is that speaker and the majority in leader and the president are going to be in a room, trying to find the best package. I’m not going to prejudge it. And I’m just saying we should not be taking ironclad positions.
On This Week with George Stephanopoulos (ABC), the Grover question came up again, this time with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Graham indicated his willingness to find additional revenue, through capping deductions, for example.  Stephanopoulos pressed, saying that Norquist has been tough on Graham.
In the end, he says, you're not going to go through with this promise to raise revenues, because you "like being a Senator." Your response?
Graham didn't flinch, responding  
I love being a senator, and I want to be a senator that matters for the state of South Carolina and the country. When you're $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece, and Republicans -- Republicans should put revenue on the table...but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.
Is it possible that we can have a real conversation now, with both sides coming to the table willing to compromise, willing to give some ground and go against their base, for the good of the country?

After all, that's what Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) cited as one of his reasons for being willing to set aside the Pledge.
I care more about my country than I do about a 20 year old pledge....Grover Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down...But I don't worry about that (referring to the likelihood of facing a primary) because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist. I'm willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.
Politicians from both parties would do well to listen to him.

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