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Occupy vs the Supercommittee: How the Movement Could Soon Impact the Debate

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To the consternation of some, and the joy of others, the ballooning Occupy Wall Street movement has so far resisted injecting itself into the nation’s political debate.

Even without a concrete list of policy goals or demands, however, there is a growing sense that, by simply existing and persevering, the month — old movement already is exerting a new influence. President Obama, for instance, has appeared to be taking a more forceful, populist, and progressive tone in recent weeks. And Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) has explicitly given Occupy Wall Street credit for the renewed energy on the left: “We’re coming together. Maybe the protesters unified the Democratic Party.”

If Occupy Wall Street is indeed exerting a new gravitational pull leftward, and it continues to do so in the coming weeks as seems likely, a sign of just how strong that pull is could come soon. A new confidence of Democrats to tilt leftward could affect the outcome of the ongoing deficit-reduction talks of the so-called bipartisan supercommittee. The supercommittee, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, is tasked with developing a plan by Thanksgiving that finds ways to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion over ten years.

Despite the protestations of the likes of GOP House Speaker John Boehner, the panel could well recommend reducing the deficit by raising federal taxes, not just further cuts to federal spending. The Occupy movement likely will have no effect on the six supercommittee Republicans. Led by hardline conservative Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, they also include Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who once headed the anti-tax group, Club for Growth. Occupy could, however, embolden the supercommittee Democrats to stand up to the Republicans with more vigor.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) just last week sent its set of proposals to the supercommittee. The CPC wants the supercommittee to develop a plan devoted to creating jobs, raising revenues through fair taxation and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The CPC identified more than $4 trillion in savings, which would increase to more than $7 trillion if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are allowed to expire on schedule. The CPC recommendations direct the savings toward job creation, which it calls the single most important means to reduce the deficit. Key recommendations include a responsible end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving $1.6 trillion; enacting the Fairness in Taxation Act, creating a millionaire tax that generates $872.5 billion; and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, saving $157.9 billion. “With the supercommittee, the Republicans have manufactured yet another budget crisis,” says CPC Budget Task Force Chair Rep. Michael Honda of California. “We can ‘go big’ and address our budget deficits by allowing the unpaid for Bush tax cuts to expire and ending our unpaid for wars on schedule. Anyone who says we need to cut education, cut the social safety net, cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare or provide more tax cuts to the rich, is pushing a political agenda, not sound fiscal policy.”

With protests on the street in the states of every supercommittee Democrat, even Sen. Max Baucus’ Montana, Occupy could be the fire they need to finally help turn Honda’s words into reality.

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About Scott Nance

  • Arch Conservative

    Another day, another delusional, inane, screed

  • Jordan Richardson

    Do you even read the articles, Arch, or do you just use this site as a place to piss?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I have no idea what Arch was trying to get at, but Scott, it seems to me, is grasping at straws. Even if OWS, among other things — and this qualification is crucial — ends up providing the proverbial push and shove for the Democrats to clean up their act, it’s still a sorry state of affairs all considering. Why would the Democrat party need push and shove in the first place, one has to ask. Obama’s overtures, too, sound awfully hollow, no different than overtures to the people of Egypt and other revolting nations in the Middle East once it became clear that the dictatorial regimes, of our own making, were about to be deposed.

    In light of the above, Scott’s featured book selection about the virtues of liberalism as the political philosophy, which is presumed to take us into the 21st century and beyond, has got to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Arch Conservative

    eh it’s late and I don’t remember what I was getting at either Roger. I just know that I’ve read enough Scott Nance to know he’s nothing worthwhile to say.

    I didn’t even read his article…..just figured it was another in his endless stream of delusional explanations of how this latest temper tantrum by the left is some important global movement.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Rather than rant, I’d call it “wishful thinking.”

  • http://www.lunch.com/DrJosephSMaresca Dr Joseph S Maresca

    “Key recommendations include a responsible end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving $1.6 trillion; enacting the Fairness in Taxation Act, creating a millionaire tax that generates $872.5 billion; and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, saving $157.9 billion.”

    How about aligning CEO and senior staff salaries with reality. In the Eisenhower/Kennedy years, chief executives earned 40 times the entry level salary, as opposed to 400 times the entry level salary today. This action alone would make available more resources to hire entry level college students who will be needed to replace the baby boom generation about to retire in record numbers this decade. I agree that infrastructure projects can employ many thousands of workers sooner rather than later. I would like to see the government negotiate more seriously with acupuncturists, physical therapists, nutritionists, cranial sacral specialists and others who emphasize natural modalities for chronic pain management for middle aged and elderly patients. Lastly, bad food needs to be taxed with an excess consumption tax sufficient enough to discourage poor eating habits on the part of the general public.

    Lastly, I agree that we need to exit gracefully from Iraq and Afghanistan and pursue alternative energy with renewed rigor.

  • Steve

    Hopefully the supercommittee will be dismissed and the congress will handle budget cuts in the normal fashion that they have for years. Putting hard decisions on some made-up committee is a disgrace for congress.