Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Grand Bargain is a Grand Lie

Why the scheme being negotiated in Washington is one-sided and totally unfair

Cenk Uygur

First of all, let's establish that no one in Washington actually cares about balancing the budget. If they did, they would love this so-called Fiscal Cliff. It raises taxes and cuts spending, so it would massively reduce the deficit. Isn't that what all of Washington has been pretending to care about all of this time?

Second, understand that this so-called compromise they are talking about in order to avoid this supposed calamity is a trick. In fact, it'll be the greatest robbery in American history. Think about it -- they say they are worried about all those tax increases and spending cuts. But that's not true. The Grand Bargain would dramatically increase spending cuts, not alleviate them. So, in fact, the only thing they care about is paying less taxes, as always.

Right now, according to the sequester $1.2 trillion in spending cuts are set to take place if nothing happens. Half of that would come from defense. Of course, this is the real problem because there's no way the defense contractors are going to allow that. Whenever people in Washington complain about spending cuts they mean spending cuts that would affect defense contractors. They want to massively increase spending cuts everywhere else in the budget.

President Obama has proposed that the Grand Bargain include $4 trillion in savings. He has said over and over again that the ratio would be $3 in spending cuts to $1 in tax increases. This is before his legendarily disastrous negotiating begins. So, let's do some quick math. According to the president's own plan that would be $3 trillion in spending cuts, which is significantly higher than the current plan of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.

Let me add one other fact, if all you do is let the Bush tax cuts expire for people making over $250,000, you would already have $1 trillion in tax increases. And we were told because of this election that was already non-negotiable. That's what we fought to make sure would happen and the president has guaranteed it. So, what exactly do progressives gain out of this Grand Bargain?

The reality is that this robbery is indefensible and my math here is irrefutable, that's why they will do this deal as quickly as possible.

The reality is that this is cost shifting. They are going to move the spending cuts away from defense and on to the middle class and poor by hacking away at Medicare and Medicaid. This is defined as courageous in Washington. What a load of crap. What would be courageous is taking on the rich and the powerful and the large political donors, which is the exact opposite of what's going to happen.

President Obama has already promised corporate tax cuts (from 35 percent to 28 percent). Think about that. Why are we doing tax cuts if we are trying to reduce the deficit? The administration tells us not to worry because they will close some loopholes and make it revenue neutral. But wait a minute, I thought the whole point was not to make it revenue neutral. I thought we were trying to raise revenue.

There's a good chance they'll pull this same kind of crap on income taxes, after all, if they wanted to raise a trillion in revenue all they would have to do is do nothing. Once the Bush tax cuts expire, you re-instate the middle class tax cuts and voila, you're done. That way, you don't have to give up anything in return!

Yet, the White House is planning to give up at least $3 trillion in spending cuts anyway. If you were progressive, if you cared about the middle class, if you were honest, why in the world would you do that? The reality is that this robbery is indefensible and my math here is irrefutable, that's why they will do this deal as quickly as possible. The more people think about it, the more they have a chance to get enraged. The Democrats and Republicans have to agree to this deal in the lame duck session before the public realizes their pocket has been picked.

They're going to raise the Medicare eligibility age even though Medicare costs less than private insurance to the country overall. That's not going to save us any money; it's going to cost us money. But it will shift money from the middle class who would get the benefits of those years of Medicare to private insurance companies and to the rich in the form of extra tax cuts they finance in the federal budget.

If you think these politicians have your best interest in mind, then you're living in an alternate reality. And are you telling me that no one else in the media did the simplest math in the world on this? They also don't want you to know (they don't want to know themselves, that's why they avoid thinking about the obvious problems in this charade), because they're also rich and powerful. The money gets shifted to them. So, why would they want to tell you about how you are about to get robbed?

The Grand Bargain is a Grand Lie. Anyone who argues for it is either a fool or a charlatan. If President Obama was anything but the establishment hack that he is, he would never consider it. There is nothing wrong with compromise, but this isn't compromise. This is a robbery.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur is the founder and CEO of The Young Turks, LLC and the host of the flagship show, The Young Turks (@TheYoungTurks), a daily 2-hour show on YouTube. Follow him on Twitter: @cenkuygur

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Mark Anniversary of 13th Amendment With Calls to 'Close the Slavery Loophole'

"Prison labor is slave labor. Pass the #AbolitionAmendment."

Jessica Corbett ·


Urging Dems to 'Fight for Justice,' Progressives Launch 'Pass the PRO Act Holiday Tour'

"We've seen time and time again, when Democrats don't deliver quickly for their base and for labor, bad things happen, and you're approaching that precipice again."

Brett Wilkins ·


Dems Urge DOJ Antitrust Probe Into $43 Billion Discovery-WarnerMedia Merger

"Giant corporations must not be allowed to stomp out competition, put up barriers to enter the market, and continue to exclude Latinos from the media industry."

Jessica Corbett ·


DOJ Lawsuit Challenging Texas Gerrymandering Met With Applause, Calls for Action in Congress

"While we are grateful for the involvement of the federal government, what we need to stop the five-decade cycle of having to take legal action every 10 years is for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Nobody Is Above the Law': Elizabeth Warren Applauds SEC Probe of Trump's Social Media Venture

"There may have been serious violations of securities laws during the proposed merger of Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Trump's media company," said the Massachusetts Democrat.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo