By Bill Maher
How come some of the Progressive Caucus' ideas on deficit reduction aren't taken as seriously as the Tea Party's, when they have a much more serious set of proposals?
The TEA in "Tea Party" stands for "Taxed Enough Already." Reducing tax revenue, of course, raises deficits. So it's right there in their name that they don't give a shit about lowering deficits. They're into cutting certain parts of government, but not where the real money is. They've protested cuts to defense, Medicare, and Social Security -- the three main things we spend money on.
On the other hand, look at the Progressive Caucus. Its members do want to cut defense, it's just a question of how much. That's a huge chunk of money they'll put on the table that most Tea Party conservatives won't.
They're also willing to cut Medicare costs and give the government a free hand in negotiating the costs of prescription drugs, which would cut spending by billions of dollars per year. A public option for those not on Medicare would save even more in government health costs.
The progressives want to end the Drug War, which costs the federal government about $15 billion a year -- more money that most conservatives aren't willing to put on the table. Add in the additional revenue you could get from taxing pot if it were legal, and it's an extra few billion a year in deficit reduction. Legalized Internet gambling would also put billions in the federal coffer.
A pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and forcing them to pay back taxes would bring in tens of billion of dollars a year in additional tax revenue.
When you add it all up, it's not just more money than anything The Tea Party is talking about, it's more than what Simpson-Bowles is selling. I don't know why progressives aren't more front and center on this, reminding people that they want to cut deficits -- it's just a question of how -- and that they want to cut government spending -- it's just a question of where.