Deficit Commission Recs: We Gotta Get Out of This Place

The Deficit Commission co-chairmen's report came out on Wednesday. The number of pundits and editorial boards who are trying to declare their first proposal as courageous or bold or balanced is testament to how silly the ritual has become. Many commentators are reveling in the fact that both the Left and Right are screaming.

What seems sad to me is how disappointing the analysis is. The scale of defense spending in the USA, as Chalmers Johnson has repeatedly pointed out, is beyond what any other citizen base in the world shoulders as a percent of GDP and adds up to approximately the defense spending of the rest of the world combined. So a little nip and tuck here is considered significant. Why do these commissions never ask what it is that all of this defense spending does for America?

The suggested Social Security cutbacks are similarly amazing. We are fretting over some problems that occur beyond 2037!!! This collection of wise men are ones that could not see the financial crisis right before their eyes in 2007, but somehow they are clairvoyant about the train wreck of 2037. Some, including leading progressive thinkers, have suggested that this will be good for market credibility. Since when do we need to appease markets that are charging 2.5 percent for 10 year debt?

Raising the age of social security payouts seems fine until, as Paul Krugman points out, you see that life expectancy has only improved for those in the upper reaches of the income distribution.

Overall, this is predictable.

David Sirota may have said it best: "If you can admit the two real parties in Washington are not the Republicans and Democrats but the Money Party and the People Party, then you can admit that this commission is not a bipartisan commission -- it's purely partisan for the Money Party." These are money party recommendations from a Commission appointed by two money parties that survive on money to conjure votes through media expenditure in a money politics distorted framework. Commissioners are being treated as if heroic. Yet they take little real risk. Nothing surprising here. Shared sacrifice is the buzz phrase. Sorry, but in the money-takes-all American political system, this sacrifice is fair like giving the opposing team the ball on the 3 yard line and saying we have a fair game when they are nine feet from the end zone and 47 yards from mid field at the start. Sirota's People's Party is on defense.

As Eric Burdon and the Animals once sang:

We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Girl, there's a better life
For me and you

Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0.