It's Friday, July 22. The day that, not too long ago, the White House set as a deadline for reaching a debt-ceiling deal so Congress could have time to write and vote on legislation before August 2. Clearly, no deal has been reached yet. But we're getting there.
As reported yesterday, President Obama and John Boehner are sort of coalescing around a $3 trillion-or-so deal that would sharply cut discretionary and entitlement spending. And what about those tax revenues that Obama and the Democrats have been demanding? Well, much to the chagrin of Democrats, those would come later, through a complete overhaul of the tax code sometime in 2012.
But Obama isn't going to simply hope that a Congress that has proven utterly, pathetically incapable of tackling big issues (or hell, small issues) will just magically be able to coalesce around revamping the tax code. So there needs to be some kind of enforcement mechanism, an automatic penalty that would kick in if Congress fails to not only reform the tax code, but to do it in a way that raises more revenue for the government, as opposed to the revenue-neutral approach many GOP congressmen prefer.
The Times reports:
The White House wants a trigger that would raise taxes on the wealthy; Mr. Boehner wants the potential penalty for inaction to include repeal of the Obama health care law’s mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance after 2014.
The Bush tax cuts on the wealthy are set to expire anyway in 2012. If Congress does nothing, that's what will happen by itself. So for that to be the big penalty hovering over the GOP seems pretty weak.
Weak, but at least it kind of makes sense. It means that one way or another, whether through an overhaul of the tax code or the triggering of the trigger, more tax revenues will be raised, ultimately giving debt reform a modicum of balance.
What makes no sense at all is that Boehner wants the trigger to be the repeal of the individual mandate, a vital component of the health-reform law passed last year. In other words, in Boehner’s proposal, if the GOP fails to agree to new tax revenues, it gets to destroy Obamacare. What the hell kind of incentive is that? It’s like giving your kid an ultimatum: Either you clean up your room, or we’re going to Disneyworld. I swear to you we will go to Disneyworld, god help me.
Obama has a reputation for caving in as readily as a poorly built snow fort, but even he couldn't accept such a counterproductive, undermining, and outright bizarre proposal ... right?