Boehner’s Grand Scam

By Lawrence A. Hunter, Ph.D.

UPDATED:  July 24, 2011, 11:30 pm

According to Huffington Post, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday night said Democratic leaders are willing to accept a $2.7 trillion deficit-reduction deal: $2.7 consisting exclusively of spending reductions and no revenues, with a hike in the debt ceiling sufficient to run through the end of 2012. No word as of this writing what the spending reductions would consist of, specifically whether they would entail cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

If this report is accurate, if the deal contains real, significant discretionary spending cuts for 2012, and if the Democratic offer does not contain cuts to Social Security and Medicare, the nation would be much better off taking the Senate Democrats’ deal than going along with the Boehner Grand Scam  -- $800 billion in tax increases with Social Security cuts, which the Republican Speaker was hyping on national TV this morning.

If Senate Republicans have their wits about them and the report is accurate, they will tell Senate Democrats they will accept the deal with the proviso that the debt-limit law also is amended along the lines suggested by Senators Toomey, Vitter and DeMint in the Full Faith and Credit Act of 2011.

The Toomey bill as amended by Sen. Vitter’s friendly amendment would give Social Security as well as interest on the national debt first-priority call on available revenues before money is spent for any other purpose. This change in the debt-limit law would prevent politicians from playing chicken and holding seniors and their Social Security checks hostage on the national debt the next time the debt ceiling has to be raised again. It would ensure that there would be in place an orderly procedure for preventing default on the national debt and Social Security if the government reaches the debt ceiling and is precluded from borrowing more money for a while.

Original Post: July 24, 3:05 pm


America, wake up. The Republican Party is playing Watch the Birdie and Listen to the GOP Jazz with you to mesmerize you into a stupefied trance. Meanwhile, they are maneuvering behind the scenes to enact a “Grand Bargain” with the Democrats and the White House to raise taxes at least a trillion dollars and cut Social Security benefits and Medicare for current retirees, right now.

All the hype, all the scare tactics, all the partisan saber rattling, it’s all showbiz to divert and deceive the masses from the real dirty dealing going on behind the scenes.

Democratic elites and the White House want to raise taxes but their political base doesn’t want them to cut Social Security. Republican elites want to cut Social Security but their political base doesn’t want them to raise taxes. So, here’s the deal Washington logic dictates: Compromise; do both.

Like newly weds intertwining wine glasses to toast their future together, Democrats and Republicans are intertwining their daggers to cut the throat of each other’s political base. Which, as always, will leave the public wondering who just did what to whom?

Each group of Washington elites and insiders agrees to run political interference for the other with their base so they can concoct a Grand Bargain to both raise taxes and cut Social Security benefits in the name of “compromise.” “That devil Obama (Boehner) made me do it but I had no choice because he was willing to end the world as we know it if I didn’t.” Ah, what a script.

And, what about that deal; some compromise huh? One group of thugs wants to cut off your arm; the other wants to cut off your leg; so they “compromise” and cut off both your arm and your leg. Only in Washington can such cowardly greed be transmogrified into courageous statesmanship by the politicians’ propaganda machines and their media transmission belt. And, only in America it appears will the people be grateful to the quacks for hacking off their extremities in the name of a wonder cure.

Here are the two smoking guns. First, speaking candidly on the Sunday talk shows, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner admitted his offer to raise taxes almost a trillion dollars and raise the debt ceiling is still good, just sitting on the table waiting for the president to accept. The only concession the Speaker demands in return: Cut Security and Medicare, right now, for current retirees.

Second, Boehner went so far as to telegraph the message to his political opponents that Republicans will raise the debt limit no matter what and will not leave the White House in the position of, God forbid, having to faithfully execute the laws to pay interest on the national debt and send out Social Security checks without being able to put it all on the national credit card.

Boehner laid out the only way this Grand Scam slight-of-hand can be snuck past the American people—do it in two stages. Here is how he insisted that raising the debt ceiling and implementing “major tax and entitlement reforms” (a.k.a. raising taxes and cutting Social Security and Medicare) will have to be done in two stages going forward. “There is going to be a two-stage process. It is not physically possible to do all of this in one step.”

What a slight-of-hand artist Boehner is, a consummate master of stagecraft. As explained in the movie The Prestige, any slight-of-hand magic trick consists of three stages: The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige.

We are currently in the final phase of the setup, or the “pledge” stage where the magician uses misdirection to present the audience with the trick he is about to perform. We have been in this stage since roughly the first of the year, during which the predicate for an economy-crashing default is established if Congress doesn’t work its magic to prevent it.

Now, we are coming up on the “turn,” or performance stage (Boehner’s first stage) where the magician makes the ordinary act, i.e., raising the debt limit, appear extraordinary, i.e., agreeing to a Grand Bargain celebrated in a Rose-Garden signing ceremony. This is the slight-of-hand stage where Congress and the president will trick the American public into believing they have joined together in a selfless act of courageous statesmanship to fundamentally reform the tax system and entitlement programs, a feat that has eluded Washington politicians for 30 years. The performance—as old as Popeye and Wendy themselves—will consist of all manner of vague promises and procedural folderol about how reforms will gladly be enacted on Tuesday in exchange for raising the debt ceiling on Monday, toot-toot.

Lastly, sometime after the 2012 election there will be the “prestige” stage (Boehner’s second stage) where the effect of the illusion is produced. That will come when through all manner of “twists and turns,” with lives and fortunes hanging in the balance, the American people will see something shocking they’ve never seen before only to discover it’s the same old same-old they have been watching stage magicians pull off since, well since George Washington himself crushed a tax revolt, the so-called “Whiskey Rebellion,” against the onerous Whiskey Tax, which was levied as part of Alexander Hamilton’s grand program to centralize and fund, what else, the national debt, all in the name of, what else, fiscal responsibility.

Paving the way for the transition between the pledge and turn stages, Boehner reiterated that his offer, the so-called “Grand Plan” to raise revenues by some $800 billion along with deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare was never withdrawn. “My last offer is still out there. I've never taken my last offer off the table,” Boehner said, emphasizing that President Obama never had agreed to it.

Well, there’s not much left to say about this shopworn performance. Their tricks are so overused and transparent that these jokers look less like Houdini than a bunch of irresponsible teenagers running around promising Mom and Dad anything they want to hear to keep the parents from cutting up their credit cards. What is amazing is that the American people continue to be taken in by the act. When will they ever learn that “grand bargains,” “10-year deals,” “non-tax-hike revenue enhancers,” “entitlement reforms” and “tax reforms” are lies, lies, lies, not worth the newly printed paper-dollar-bill price of admission?

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