Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The debt ceiling debacle

I have tried to keep my blog relatively free from political tirades, but this post is going to be different. So sorry if tirades aren’t your thing.

So we have reached the debt ceiling. Is this an artificial crisis manufactured for political gain or an opportunity to really address America’s unfunded mandates?

Well probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

But how have we gotten to this point? How has it come to this insane showdown?

Last night speaker of the House John Boehner asserted that President Obama created this crisis and is responsible for the debt and deficit we face today. The truth is: previous Presidents and Congresses created this crisis through their unwillingness to make the tough decisions on taxes and spending. Washington DC’s lack of courage combined with two wars, a recession and a 70 million strong baby boomer generation just starting to draw on their benefits have all put America in dire financial straits. The last time Congress voted to get America back onto a fiscally sound track, many Democrats kissed their seats goodbye in the Republican revolution of 1994. (However the budget Clinton and the Democrats did pass got us back to surpluses, oh how quickly we forget)

Regardless of how we got here, there is no doubt that both sides are now using this artificially imposed debt ceiling restriction in a frightening game of brinksmanship. The Republicans can’t compromise by allowing any revenue into a deal and President Obama is risking the support of his own party by suggesting drastic cuts to programs like medicare and social security to appease the Republicans.

George W. Bush and the two rounds of unprecedented tax cuts are the real cause of this crisis. And reforming the tax code is clearly the answer.

But so far this idea seems like a non-starter. But for god sake Republicans, even Grover Norquist said it wouldn’t count as a tax increase to roll back the Bush Tax cuts. He gave you guys a way out of the corner you have painted yourselves into. But of course, no compromise is possible with opponents whose only goal is to deny the President a deal because they are afraid he will get all the credit. (Which he probably would) So the Republicans have rejected any deal with President Obama that has any revenues and President Obama has rejected Mitch McConnell’s politically cynical and self serving plan that would allow the Republicans to grandstand against raising the debt ceiling while still allowing the President to raise it and keep the economy in one piece.

While Congress sweats in record heat, an even crazier battle is being fought in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina. The Republicans are out on the Presidential campaign trail vying to see which one of them will represent the powerful, the wealthy, the connected and the bamboozled in 2012. Will they be able to convince Americans that the people who broke and plundered this economy with their Wall Street friends should now be put back in charge? Do they actually want the economy to collapse so they can run against President Obama in an even worse economic climate than we are already in?

I sincerely hope they care more about our country and our world than to do that.

But I am not sure they do.

I sympathize with John Boehner. He is between a rock and a hard place. The Tea Party radicals that gave him his majority will challenge every single one of his members if they vote to raise taxes and compromise with the President. Third party candidates or aggressive right wing primary challengers are the Republican's worst nightmare. They can’t do anything to anger the increasingly radical base of the Republican electorate or risk losing their majority and fracturing their precarious coalition.


  1. This is the most ridiculous and high-stakes game of "chicken" I have ever witnessed. I became VERY angry listening to house republicans speak about their proposed "bipartisan fix" while waiting for a flight yesterday. Everything is clearly the fault of our president and his party of big spenders. Never-mind that George W spent truckloads of money AND cut taxes. It should be easy to get out of this mess without raising any sort of taxes right? In all honesty, punish my generation however you want, but don't screw over these senior citizens who bought in to the system and worked their butts off. "The Greatest Generation" is lucky enough to bear the brunt of all this lunacy.

    Excellent synopsis!

  2. I am sure you have seen this report or at least similar ones, but Figure 1 is especially Damning towards the Republican's brinkmanship.

    They played rugby in the china shop, destroying countless items, while on vacation. Then were chased out of town because they refused to acknowledge what they did. Finally the shop owners reached out to try and recoup a bit of the costs, and the republicans now are asking the next customers to stomach higher prices for the sake of keeping the china shop open. All the while blaming the higher prices on ownership, not on their irresponsible actions.