Yesterday, the Joint Select Committee missed a significant opportunity to begin to get our fiscal house in order because of Democrats’ insistence on raising taxes and refusal to substantively address the biggest drivers of our debt – our insolvent entitlement programs. With unemployment stuck at 9% and the debt passing $15 trillion, we need to get serious about our debt crisis, but cannot do so at the cost of economic recovery and job creation. As Republicans have said time and again, we will not support any move to hike taxes on working families and the small businesses we’re counting on to create jobs. Instead of campaigning around the country and taking a backseat approach to these big challenges, the President should work with House Republicans on areas of common ground where we can boost economic growth, provide an environment for businesses to succeed and get people back to work.
Today In History: Today in 1963, one of the saddest days in American history, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Birthdays: Scarlett Johansson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mark Ruffalo and Charles de Gaulle Tomorrow: Bruce Hornsby
Here is what’s in today’s Ledger ...
State Of Play: The Democrats’ Push For Tax Hikes Will Crush Job Creation and Economic Growth
Speaker Boehner: Democrat Insistence On Raising Taxes Would Make The Economy Even Worse. Republicans are focused on the American people's No. 1 priority: jobs. And everyone knows that we can't get our economy moving again and create jobs without dealing with Washington's out-of-control spending. ... the so-called supercommittee was unable to reach agreement because President Obama and Washington Democrats insisted on dramatic tax hikes on American job creators, which would make our economy worse. USA Today
• Chairman Hensarling: It’s Not A Tax Problem, It’s The Out Of Control Spending. Even if Republicans agreed to every tax increase desired by the president, our national debt would continue to grow uncontrollably. Controlling spending is therefore a crucial challenge. The other is economic growth and job creation, which would produce the necessary revenue to fund our priorities. ... Republicans were willing to agree to additional tax revenue, but only in the context of fundamental pro-growth tax reform that would broaden the base, lower rates, and maintain current levels of progressivity. ... The Democrats said no. They were unwilling to agree to anything less than $1 trillion in tax hikes—and unwilling to offer any structural reforms to put our health-care entitlements on a permanently sustainable basis. The Wall Street Journal
Editorial: It’s Not A Revenue Problem, It’s A Spending Problem. The problem is spending ... Raising taxes will not solve the problem and, if anything, could exacerbate it by prolonging the current spending binge. Yes, tax receipts dipped during the recession. But they're on track to return to the historical average of about 19 percent of GDP within the next couple of years. On the other hand, if current spending policies are kept in place, by 2035 federal spending will rise from 22 percent of GDP to 35 percent of GDP. There's a word to describe such a scenario: insane. The country's long-term budget problems do not exist because Americans are taxed too little. They exist because Congress spends too much. No amount of rhetorical bilge about "meeting the other side halfway" will change that irrefutable fact. Richmond Times-Dispatch
State Of Play (2): Republicans Put Forward A Plan, Democrats Refused To Put Forward Any Proposals
Speaker Boehner: Republicans Acted In Good Faith, While Democrats Refused Offer Any New Proposals. Throughout the process, Republicans made a series of serious, good-faith offers that included tax reforms that would lead to new revenue and more economic growth. The GOP proposals would get rid of special-interest tax breaks and loopholes and replace the current tax code with a system that would lower tax rates for every single American and help create jobs. ... Democrats, unfortunately, refused to offer anything they didn't previously support — insisting on a trillion dollar tax hike on job creators and nearly a trillion dollars in new "stimulus" spending. USA Today
• Chairman Hensarling: Despite Making Assurances, Democrats Never Offered A Structural Reform Plan. President Obama summed up our debt crisis best when he told Republican members of the House in January 2010 that "The major driver of our long-term liabilities . . . is Medicare and Medicaid and our health-care spending." A few months later, however, Mr. Obama and his party's leaders in Congress added trillions of dollars in new health-care spending to the government's balance sheet. Democrats on the committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president's health law was off the table. Still, committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year. ... Democrats rejected this approach but assured us on numerous occasions they would offer a "structural" or "architectural" Medicare reform plan of their own. While I do not question their good faith effort to do so, they never did. The Wall Street Journal
State Of Play (3): Americans Overwhelmingly Say President Obama Has Failed To Live Up To Their Leadership Expectations
The Supercommittee Failed Because President Obama Refused To Lead. Budget deals get done because presidents prod, plead, cajole, demand and threaten. A few phone calls and tepid public statements do not count. It is the executive, not the legislature, that gives the budget process energy and direction. The supercommittee failed primarily because President Obama gave a shrug. The Washington Post
Americans Aren’t Impressed With President Obama’s Leadership Skills. President Obama had an opportunity to exceed expectations but decided to remain absent as the Supercommittee deadline approached. A majority of Independents (53 to 37 percent) already believe the President is more interested in campaigning against congressional Republicans to win reelection than reaching across the aisle to get things done, according to our last survey. The President’s Supercomittee strategy reinforces this narrative and reminds voters of how he has failed to live up to their expectations. Resurgent Republic
• 60 percent of voters said President Obama has turned out to be a weaker leader, compared to 32 percent who said stronger. Resurgent Republic
• By greater than two-to-one, Independents believed President Obama has been a weaker leader than they expected (65 to 24 percent). Resurgent Republic
Reality Check: Reid Laments Over The Very Partisan Environment He Helped Create
Priorities: “In The Thick Of Negotiations” Harry Reid Found Time To Sit Down With Lobbyists To Reminisce About The Good Old Days and Lament Over The Current Partisan Environment. In the thick of the negotiations, Reid, too, recalled the days when deal makers could bridge the partisan divide. He visited Ted Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery with former Sen. Chris Dodd. Dodd poured some whiskey on Kennedy’s grave while Reid recited a prayer, the majority leader told lobbyists at a meeting, according to attendees. He told the group that he missed both men. Politico
• Meanwhile Back In Nevada: Las Vegas Columnist Blasts Reid For Putting Partisanship Ahead Of Policy and Failing To Show Leadership. For a glimpse of what ails Washington, look no further than the strange and petty utterances of Sen. Harry Reid. YouTube and the Internet are filled with Reidisms. Now he's using Twitter to communicate all the wrong partisan messages when what the country needs is a strong voice of leadership. Consider this tweet that came in about five minutes ago: "@SenatorReid: Moving fwd, I hope the fear of the Tea Party & millionaire lobbyists like Grover Norquist will not prevent Rs from forging compromises w/Ds" What!? Brilliant. With inspiring thoughts like that, we're going nowhere on any kind of spending reduction or effective plan to improve the economy. Reid and Obama have had full run of Congress for almost three years and what do we have to show for it? A worse economy with few signs of improvement. The best Obama and Reid can offer us is very, very slow growth, more spending, higher deficits and a bizarre proclamation that Americans have gotten soft and lazy over the years. The Las Vegas Review-Journal
A Chance To Change: There are 20 bipartisan House-passed jobs bill sitting idly in the Senate. Perhaps Leader Reid can help change the tone by acting on these stalled bipartisan jobs bills.
Regulatory Watch: The Obama Administration’s Attack On Coal Continues
The Obama Administration Continues To Pick Winners and Losers: The EPA Chief Is Artificially Making Coal More Expensive. Ms. Jackson was asked about the EPA's regulatory boom and the resulting mass retirements of coal-fired power plants. She responded by claiming that "First off, EPA doesn't require shutting down of any plant," which is technically true: The EPA merely writes rules so stringent that those plants are no longer economic to operate. When pressed, Ms. Jackson went on to say that "No, I can't say what a business will decide to do. Some businesses are investing in nuclear, some are looking at natural gas. There are states that are leading the way on solar or wind. . . . What EPA's role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at the pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or any utility when they're making their investment decisions." (Our emphasis.) ... In fact, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, its goal was clean air, not the industrial planning that Ms. Jackson's comments about "levelling the playing field" reveal. Under the law, the EPA is required to set source-specific standards depending on where the emissions come from—natural gas, coal or something else. It certainly doesn't contain a roving mandate for Ms. Jackson to guide investment decisions. What Ms. Jackson really means is that she is trying to make coal—the workhorse of U.S. electric power—artificially more expensive. This is to serve her anticarbon goals, if not the consumers who will bear the costs and may suffer if the U.S. electric grid is compromised. But at least the EPA chief is finally admitting what she's up to. The Wall Street Journal
Supercommittee Brings To Light The Rift Between Reid and Pelosi. The intricate political calculus inside the supercommittee wasn’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Reid was forced to repeatedly assure House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he wasn’t going to cut a deal behind her back. Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) were described as peeved when they became aware of the back-channel talks between Krone and Jackson, which had been blessed by Reid and Murray. Politico