The Spare-Us-the-Pain Coalition

As noted earlier, a lot of the supposed compromise, “share-the-pain” proposals kicking around Washington right now as “solutions” to the “fiscal cliff,” don’t really offer a lot of compromise, unless you think giving up crazy, unrealizable tax-cut schemes in exchange for huge, generational changes in the social safety net is really equitable.

But there’s one major group with a proposal that is refreshingly honest in its sheer offensive greed: that of the CEO Fiscal Leadership Council, an adjunct to Pete Peterson’s lavishly funded Campaign to Fix the Debt, which had a lot to do with making the “fiscal cliff” such a huge and immediate post-election priority. As HuffPost’s Christinia Willkie and Ryan Grim explain, this coalition of the all-powerful is proposing that major corporate tax cuts accompany “entitlement reform” as part of its idea of a “balanced” fiscal solution:

During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council — most visibly, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote — have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.

As part of their push, they are advocating a “territorial tax system” that would exempt their companies’ foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks” — money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.

Yet the CEOs are not offering to forgo federal money or pay a higher tax rate, on their personal income or corporate profits. Instead, council recommendations include cutting “entitlement” programs, as well as what they call “low-priority spending.”

Nor, it seems, do the execs consider the enormous contracts they receive from the federal government–particularly from the Pentagon budget–“low-priority spending.”

Seems the most obvious response would be a “spare-us-the-pain” budget from the rest of the population. Then maybe we can talk.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.