Flashback: Was George Bush Sr. Serious About His Debt Reduction Proposal?

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First, let’s look at today’s news, for context.  From CNN:

“Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he and congressional negotiators have done a ‘first serious scrub’ of the entire federal budget but differences remain over big-ticket items that philosophically divide the two parties in their quest for an agreement that would raise the nation’s debt ceiling while putting in place long-term reductions to the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt.

Those big-ticket items include whether to increase tax revenues – which many Democrats want – and making changes to expensive entitlements like Medicare – which many Republicans support.

‘Everybody wants an agreement,’ Biden told reporters after a meeting in the Capitol with the bipartisan group of lawmakers and other top Obama administration officials. ‘That is sufficiently realistic to get to $4 trillion over a decade or so – in terms of reductions.'”

And these doozies:

“‘Now we’re down to the really hard stuff. I’ll trade you my bicycle for your golf clubs,’ he said as a hypothetical example.

Biden said the negotiators would not ‘cut a deal that can’t be sold’ to rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties.

‘Whatever gets sold and the Congress affirmatively votes on,’ he predicted, will ‘have to have a lot of Democratic and Republican votes.’

Biden went out of his way to praise the lawmakers with whom he’s working. He singled out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, who he described as ‘smart has hell’ and ‘totally and completely straightforward and sincere.'”

In light of the never-ending, seemingly annual debt and deficit talks, I did a bit of research into past debt reduction talks.

You may be surprised at what I found!

From 1992:

“In a second defeat for the Administration, the Senate killed a Republican amendment striking a provision from the package that would have permanently extended two tax increases for wealthy taxpayers established in the 1990 budget agreement.”

Republicans tried to prevent the tax increase on the wealthy from becoming permanent. OK, that’s not really a surprise.  But that’s not the surprise I was referring to!

Look at what Bush Sr. offeredas his debt reduction proposal:

“…campaign proposal offered by President Bush to permit taxpayers to earmark up to 10 percent of their income tax payment to reducing the national debt.”

Yes, you read that right!  Bush Sr. wanted to allow taxpayers to generously, voluntarily, donate to reduce the national debt!

I bet there would’ve been a lot of takers for that offer!

As I’ve previously written, I still don’t think either side actually wants to reduce the national debt.

The current talks, involving the Obama administration, are likely to be theatre.  Pure theatre.

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