Maybe U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy “TurboTax” Geithner has a future in stand-up comedy. The proposal he presented Thursday on behalf of the Obama administration to avoid the fiscal cliff crisis caused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to “burst into laughter,” according to The Weekly Standard.
McConnell called it a “one-sided plan” that is “explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts,” saying it reflected “Obama’s insistence on tax rate hikes for the wealthy but unwillingness to embrace serious spending cuts,” The Standard reported.
A New York Times article offered more details on Geithner’s proposal, saying it included:
1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner expressed disappointment after his meeting with Geithner.
“The Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Boehner told The New York Times. “No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.”
Get ready to bang your head against the wall.
A White House spokeswoman responded to Republican resistance to the proposal this way, according to The Times:
Right now, the only thing preventing us from reaching a deal that averts the fiscal cliff and avoids a tax hike on 98 percent of Americans is the refusal of Congressional Republicans to ask the very wealthiest individuals to pay higher tax rates. The president has already signed into law over $1 trillion in spending cuts and we remain willing to do tough things to compromise, and it’s time for Republicans in Washington to join the chorus of other voices — from the business community to middle-class Americans across the country — who support a balanced approach that asks more from the wealthiest Americans.
But let’s take a look at the last part of Geithner’s proposal, the so-called “permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.” Politico quoted a GOP Senate aide as saying the measure would end congressional approval of raising the debt ceiling and give the president “the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling at any time.” However, in order to allow politicians the opportunity to scream, yell and stamp their feet if Obama did raise the ceiling, Congress would be allowed to pass a “resolution of disapproval, but it would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers to pass, and could still be vetoed.”
If this wasn’t all so pathetically sad and scary, I would enjoy a belly laugh at TurboTax Tim’s plan, too.
For a related story and video, “Tim Geithner: ‘Absolutely’ eliminate debt ceiling,” click here: