Ezra on the “cut, cap and balance” nonsense from the House Republicans: Perhaps CC&B would be an understandable policy fantasy in normal times. But three years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? We've been violently
July 19, 2011

Ezra on the “cut, cap and balance” nonsense from the House Republicans:

Perhaps CC&B would be an understandable policy fantasy in normal times. But three years after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? We've been violently reminded that there are times when economies contract, and contract fast. Individuals and businesses stop spending, and states and cities have to cut back sharply. The only way to prevent massive layoffs, the only way to give the unemployed some help and the underpaid some relief, is for the federal government to spend. And yet we want to write into the Constitution a requirement that spending remain at 18 percent of the previous year's GDP? That is to say, a requirement that the federal government needs to make recessions worse rather than drawing on its unique capacity to make them better? Are we mad?

And Republicans, frankly, know much of this. Ronald Reagan's entire presidency would've been unconstitutional under CC&B. Same for George W. Bush's. Paul Ryan's budget wouldn't pass muster. The only budget that might work for this policy -- if you could implement it -- would be the proposal produced by the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee. But that proposal was so extreme and unworkable that a majority of Republicans voted it down. The only reason CC&B is faring any better is that it doesn't get specific about what it would require. But properly understood, that makes it much worse policy -- and that's before you realize we're talking about a constitutional amendment, not a simple budget.

Ultimately, though, the real sin here isn't that bad policy will pass. It's that we're wasting precious time on bad policy that won't. Everyone involved knows this will never pass the Senate or the White House. Perhaps that would be okay if we didn't have anything better to do. But we have two weeks before we crash the economy into the rocks of the debt ceiling. It's not a good sign that instead of moving towards compromises and tough choices, the House GOP is daydreaming and sloganeering.

Oh, it’s not just us – progressives – beating up on the crazy House Republicans. Even conservatives are piling on the mockery. From Bruce Bartlett, former economic advisor to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush:

“This is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin … [It was] designed solely for the purpose of appealing to ignorant Tea Party types.”

And from Daniel Foster, News Editor of National Review:

“Memo to House GOP: passing a plan that will never become law is *almost* as irresponsible as passing no plan at all.”

Ouch! And to rub salt on the wound, David Rogers from the POLITICO speculated that "even Ronald Reagan might have opposed" this stunt. Yet, here they are … moving forward with their crazy stunt with "no backup plan after vote."

Let’s go over again what can potentially happen if the House Republicans do not get out of the way of averting a default crisis. If the U.S. is allowed to default on our debt, America as well as 7,000 individual cities will lose their top credit rating which will affect everything - from credit card rates to hospitals. If the U.S. defaults on our debt, the stock market will plummet, mortgage rates will rise, and jobs will be lost - for an American family, this could mean losing thousands from retirement savings and adding thousands to a mortgage.

As mentioned yesterday, the “Cut, Cap and Balance” nonsense has no chance of passing the Senate, is even running into trouble in the House, and the President has already threatened to veto it. It is a reckless plan that amounts to the Ryan budget on steroids. It would require even deeper cuts to Medicare and Social Security than the controversial Ryan plan, and it would go further to protect tax breaks for the wealthy.

It’s been 200 days since the Republicans took power in the House, and yet there has been no discussion of a real jobs plan. They keep continue to ram through their crazy legislation, protecting tax giveaways to millionaires, while slashing and burning programs in a way that destroys jobs and rip apart our country’s social safety nets.

Sooner or later the Democrats in Washington will have to effectively stand up and let these guys know – through actions, not just tough words. Enough is enough.

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