Will Republicans Fumble the Ball to Chuck and Nancy?

Despite Republican leaders’ wayward fall from debt frugality into tax cut frivolity, shifting teams now to Chuck and Nancy would be a fiscal calamity. “Chuck and Nancy” is a Trump euphemism for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans deserve criticism for abandoning their long held top priority to reduce deficits and debt in order to pass deficit-busting tax cuts. But Chuck and Nancy have never made deficit and debt reduction a priority.

Certainly, Democrats think Republican tax gifts to big corporations and the wealthy will sweep them into power next year. But with Chuck and Nancy at the helm, that’s unlikely. Democrats’ pathway to victory requires a convincing appeal to the centrist Americans that Republicans have abandoned, i.e., a surge toward moderation. That’s not the political position New York and California Democrats like Chuck and Nancy espouse.

As one long-time Mississippi Democratic officeholder told me recently, “It seems that there are no people in Congress who put the country above party. The whole goal of both parties is power. Link that to campaign contributions. A pox on all their houses!”

He’s not alone.

“I have lost all hope of any real fiscal reform or responsible governance,” one of my more conservative, military retiree friends said. “I truly believe that our pols have realized that $20.2 trillion is not going to be paid back, or even paid down… ever!  As the owner of the printing press of the world’s reserve currency, they have decided to optimize the climate for business or possibly a loftier goal of elevating the standard of living to the highest level possible (measured in big screen TV size) for the longest period possible.“

Hold on. It appears Republican leaders are now admitting economic growth won’t generate enough revenue to pay for their big tax cuts and talking tough about spending cuts. Their plan, however, may be the sort of miscalculation that actually puts Chuck and Nancy in the game.

“Let’s cut Social Security to pay for tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.” Sound like a smart strategy to you? That story is building.

“Florida Senator Marco Rubio admits that the Republican tax cut plan, which benefits corporations and the wealthy, will require cuts to Social Security and Medicare to pay for it,” reads a Newsweek story.

“Republicans are making no secret of their plans to go after these critical retirement programs,” says a Reuters story. “It is the flip side of their plan to expand the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Cutting spending by these programs might be used to offset some of the cuts.”

“We’re going to have to get back next year to entitlement reform,” added Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Everybody with common sense knows that Social Security and Medicare need to be modified and/or shored up. But in politics, timing and message are everything. Just hinting, if not outright saying they’re cutting Saying Social Security to pay for tax cuts fumbles the ball to Chuck and Nancy on the 10-yard line.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” as former Sen. Alan Simpson says.

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