Inside Opinion

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Tag: debt


Supercommittee’s failure bodes ill for nation

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Supercommittee? More like Sad Sack committee.

Today was the deadline for the 12 members of Congress charged with charting a path toward national solvency. By Thanksgiving, they were supposed to have produced a package of measures to reduce the U.S. government’s debt – which just exceeded $15 trillion – by $1.2 trillion.

The total reduction they came up with: $0.

All their fumblings and failures played out against a truly alarming background: the crumbling of Europe’s economy under the weight of unsupportable debt and many years of unsustainable spending by southern European countries. That crisis threatens to kill America’s weak, flickering recovery and drag us right back into recession.

You would think that the cataclysmic unfolding of Europe’s folly – that’s our future, folks! – would persuade Republicans, Democrats, anybody, to throw out the old partisan talking points and reach a serious deficit-cutting agreement. Instead we get partisan gridlock in Congress, which led to the creation of the supercommittee, which promptly settled into its own partisan gridlock.

Republican and Democratic leaders are frantically blaming each other for the collapse, hoping the voters will punish the other party in the 2012 elections. That tells you where their hearts are.

Within the supercommittee, there actually were moves toward compromise. On the Republican side, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania abandoned the GOP’s no-taxes-or-the-lady-dies posture and suggested $300 billion in revenue measures. Some Democrats were willing to pare back Medicare, Social Security and other entitlements.

In the end, though, the supercommittee – like Congress – didn’t have enough statesmen or stateswomen willing to put the nation’s interests above their party’s – or their own careers, for that matter.
Read more »


Can attack of the rich guys yield economic and political benefits?

Warren Buffett

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Warren Buffett considers it a crying shame that he only paid $6.9 million in income tax last year.

In an opinion piece Monday in The New York Times, the billionaire notes that he paid only 17.4 percent of his taxable income – while the tax burden of people who worked in his office averaged 36 percent.

The tax breaks he and his fellow rich Americans enjoy should end, Buffett says, as part of the “shared sacrifice” all of us will have to make if we are to pull the national economy out of its debt crisis. While the poor and middle class fight in Afghanistan, and average Americans struggle to make ends meet, it’s not right that the mega-rich continue to enjoy tax rates that have declined over the past 20 years, he wrote.

Some high-ranking Republicans have criticized Buffett for saying the rich are being “coddled” by Congress and should pay higher taxes. And online commenters make the point that no law is needed for Buffett to pony up more in taxes; he can just write a check for what he thinks is a fairer amount.
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A dubious debt deal, a big victory for the tea party

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Every time House Speaker John Boehner walked into a room to talk debt limits with Barack Obama, he was followed by an invisible crowd with cocked hats and manic smiles.

The tea pot brigade.

“Just between us,” Boehner could say, “I know it makes sense to include some new revenue in the deal. But I’ve got these crazy members who wouldn’t want the richest man in American to kick in an extra dime toward a balanced budget.

“You don’t know what it’s like caucusing with these nuts. There’s no dealing with them. Hell, some of them would squeeze me out of leadership in a heartbeat if they could, and then who would you be dealing with?

“Some of them really would let America go into default rather than raise taxes. And there’s even crazier guys back in their home districts talking about running against them if they cut me any slack.

“I’d love to play ball with you, Mr. President, but that’s the world I have to live in.” Read more »


Only debt solution: Less spending, more taxes

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Thursday’s White House conclave on the nation’s debt and deficits was “very constructive,” President Obama announced after the session ended.

What does that mean? Nobody pulled out a gun?

Republican congressional leaders have forced Democrats into the ultimate game of chicken.

Their threat to prevent Democrats from ratcheting up the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is inherently reckless: If they made good on it, the nation’s fragile semi-recovery could be walloped by higher interest rates as investors watched Congress playing politics with its financial obligations.

Who jumps out first before the nation’s credit rating goes over the cliff? Read more »