There Bayh goes again

THERE BAYH GOES AGAIN…. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana wrote a column for CNN, explaining why he intends to vote against raising the debt ceiling, “unless Congress adopts a credible process to balance our books and eliminate the red ink.”

Long-term deficits drive up interest rates for consumers, raise prices of goods and services, and weaken our country’s financial competitiveness and security.

The bigger our deficits, the fewer resources we have to make critical investments in energy, education, health care and tax relief for small businesses and middle-class families.

The bigger our deficits, the more we must borrow from foreign creditors like China, allowing governments with competing interests to influence our economic and trade policies in ways that run counter to our national interest. […]

Our unsustainable debt is neither a Democratic nor a Republican problem. It is rooted in the DNA of both political parties. Some in Congress like to spend more than we can afford, and some like to cut taxes more than we can afford. The easy path is simply to borrow until the credit markets will no longer allow it.

What Bayh wants is a congressional commission to recommend a deficit-reduction package, which lawmakers would be forced to vote on, up or down. Without the commission, Bayh is prepared to let the United States default on its loans and send the global economy into turmoil. It’s an interesting little hostage situation Bayh has created for himself.

There are, however, some issues to consider. For example, it was none other than Evan Bayh who recently voted to “reform” the estate tax, cutting taxes for the extraordinarily rich, at a cost of $750 billion over the next decade. To pay for it, he recommended … nothing. The costs would simply all be added to the deficit. Given this, I hope he’ll forgive my skepticism about his credibility on the subject of fiscal responsibility.

For that matter, I know everyone is always supposed to believe at all times that “both sides are equally to blame,” but Bayh’s shorthand is lazy and wrong. Democratic policymakers cut the deficit and created a surplus. Republican policymakers were the single most fiscally irresponsible officials in American history. Yes, Dems are running high deficits now, but only because the alternative is a wholesale economic collapse. Skipping over this history is, at best, misleading.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the president’s budget proposals already project deficit reductions, and health care reform would further bring significant reductions to the deficit.

But perhaps the biggest question I have for Bayh is: why wait? If the Indiana senator and his cohorts want to put together a deficit reduction strategy, why not put pen to paper and present a plan?