Holt Counters “Compromise” Claims for Federal Budget Bill
The federal budget plan heading for a full Senate vote is either a compromise, or arm-twisting, depending upon which spin you follow.
Republicans including shore Representatives Jon Runyan (R-3) and Frank Lobiondo (R-2) view it as a breakthrough, noting the easing of sequester-based spending cuts and a reinforced defense budget.
Democrat Rush Holt, however, begs to differ - no, demands to differ, contending that none of it would have been necessary if conservatives hadn't, in his words, held federal spending "hostage" in 2011 and prompted the law dictating terms of sequester reductions.
"What we should be doing is scrapping sequester entirely," Holt fumed. "We shouldn't be acting as if we're a poor debtor nation, because we're not."
Proponents claim that unless federal spending gets a clamp on it, America's multi-trillion-dollar debt will eventually cave its economy, with catastrophic global consequences if major note holders such as China decide it's time to collect.
Holt argued that slashing programs that feed education, infrastructure, research and more simply moves the whole country backwards. "I do want government investment to go forward," he continued. "I don't want us operating on an austerity budget. It doesn't help people, it doesn't help our economy, and it isn't fair."
"Obviously, we don't want waste, opulence and grandiose plans," Holt said, "but we do want a country that keeps the roof in repair, and keeps all of its citizens as functioning contributors to our society."
Holt seethed at the characterization of America as a nation on the economic ropes which, he says, has fueled the austerity movement. Debt, he said, is a tool - not a disgrace. The question is whether we can carry it, and how available funds are spent. The GI Bill, based on billions in borrowing, is his prime example of a conscious step into deep debt that paid off handsomely for veterans looking to improve their lives.
"This country has always been in debt, since 1789," he noted, "except for one year during the Andrew Jackson administration."
How, then, to mop up runaway red ink? Tighten the tax structure, Holt insisted. "There are billions and billions...actually trillions...of dollars of loopholes in our tax code. People who run hedge funds, who make very nice incomes," he said by way of example, "should pay taxes on their income just like everyone else. Corporate jets, depletion allowances for oil companies that are doing quite well - these should not be excused from taxation."
Beltway insiders anticipate, at best, a weak Republican effort to stop the bill from clearing the Senate and heading to the Oval Office.