Ari Melber on Super Congress

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Above is a rant by Ari Melber on the Super Congress that’s a big piece of the deficit deal that passed earlier this week. Here’s a snippet of the transcript:

I think that brings us to the last ingredient in this farce: the idea that these arbitrary cuts are magically going to result in equal pressure on both sides. …Well many Republicans opposed default too, but in practice you know and I know this GOP congress has proven itself willing to risk great harm in pursuit of its agenda.

There are other larger issues with the Super Congress, but the notion that it will work out of a fear of mutually assured destruction is bogus. For starters, it’s a central tenet of the modern Republican Party’s governing philosophy that the social support network should be removed and Americans should all be on their own. As we saw with the deficit hysteria, conservatives are anxious to use this narrative as a means of destroying the Big Three social programs and many smaller ones as well. While some Democrats have sought to reduce waste and Cold War era weapons systems from the Pentagon budget, reducing the size of the defense budget isn’t exactly a driving force of the Democratic Party. And since all of our many wars aren’t funded out of the Pentagon budget, this Super Congress isn’t affording liberals a mechanism to speed the end of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Reducing defense spending is no Democratic holy grail. Dennis Kucinich and Mark Warner aren’t in the same place on it. Decreasing the raw Pentagon budget just isn’t a guiding star for the Democratic Party, particularly given the amount of Democrats who supported and funded the war in Iraq, the President’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and his initiation with little Democratic objection of a war congressionally irrelevant kinetic action in Libya.

And that’s just the Democratic Party’s tensions on defense spending. There’s a real tension in the Republican Party between war hawks and tax cutters. This is has the potential to undercut the Republican fear of the Super Congress not reaching a deal and snap cuts to defense. Since that fear, we are told, is critical to good-faith negotiation within the Super Congress, this is actually a pretty large structural problem with the mechanism for finding future spending cuts.

As Melber points out, the nut result is that there will be tremendous pressure on Democrats to block social spending cuts and some amount less pressure on Republicans to stop defense cuts, paired with rabid pursuit by conservatives of social spending cuts with some degree of understanding that defense should be cut some too coming from Democrats. This structural asymmetry seems destined to produce deeper social spending cuts that inflict more damage and more pain on working American families than will be felt by cuts to contracts with Halliburton, Raytheon, BAE Systems, and KBR.

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