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The Debt Ceiling Debate Is An Annoying Flirtation With Disaster

Photo via White House FlickrDon't you just love it when something that has never been a partisan issue and was simply about being able to function becomes tied up in a very partisan debate? Where various financial theories obscure the reality? It's like not putting out a house fire because you're having a philosophical debate whether or not you should let the whole house burn down because the owner didn't install fire alarms. 

Sure. Perhaps the owner should have installed smoke detectors and other fire safety measures to protect the house. Perhaps more could have been done to prevent this fire. Perhaps when can prevent future fires. But hey, Congress, you could still save this house, right now, if you just turned on your hoses and put out this fire! We could discuss home fire safety later! Perhaps when the house isn't burning down!" And then Eric Cantor shouts, "QUIET YOU! WE'RE TRYING TO LEVERAGE OUR VOODOO ECONOMICS WITH YOUR BURNT HOUSE! CUT SPENDING! NO NEW TAXES (on the folks barely paying them in the first place)."

Because of this, President Barack Obama has been on TV a lot lately! Mostly frustrated and rather annoyed sounding as House Republicans try to leverage their power on keeping the nation's lights on. Unfortunately, keeping the nation's lights on is a priority for everyone from our government to the "job creators" Republicans claim their in this fight for, protecting them from dreaded "tax increases." 

My friends at Mediaite blamed the ridiculousness of this debate on how our present media environment doesn't encourage rational, thoughtful people to join politics, but useless, camera-humping show dog ideologues who don't have the mental capacity to grasp the serious business of running this country. 

Perhaps it is apt that, given their leadership in covering of the current episode of Rugrats playing out in the Capitol building, it is Politico that runs a piece condemning all of Congress for being “bozos” and dives into the partisan fray by complaining Republicans won’t submit to Democratic demands. That piece’s author, Roger Simon, blames the American people for electing the the current crop of legislators and demands they do better next time. But blaming the American people for making false choices among various breeds of political show dogs ignores the fact that only a very narrow personality type would be attracted to the national stage the media provides our legislature. Congress is a place for pure-bred, poofy-haired, yappy Malteses, not for your neighbor’s smart but reclusive German Shepard mix. Curbed egos need not apply.

The old GOP argument has been that if you raise any taxes on the wealthy or businesses that they'll stop hiring and invest less money in the country. How this argument still makes sense when nothing is built in this country anymore is amazing. Especially since almost every factory went overseas from the 1980s through the 90s, and those same "job creators" took their tax breaks and passed the profits onto themselves -- not reinvesting in the people of the United States with jobs and benefits. But that's their line and their still pushing it. We have one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the worldonly 18,000 jobs were created last month and we're still reeling from the affects of the Great Recession.

Spending is an issue. We have a large aging population who is living longer and whose health care is expensive. No matter what anyone says, it's our entitlement programs and our defense that sucks up most of our revenue. Yet, it's pretty irresponsible to cut Social Security and other social programs when those programs are the only thing keeping people out of complete poverty. If the government does nothing else, it should try to take care of the individuals who pay into it. But all the GOP seems to want to do is "cut spending" on the people who need it most and have little to zero interest in having the corporations who have greatly benefited from our not-taxing them in paying back into the system. 

If it weren't for the fact that it would A) cause the country to default on its debt, B) cause our credit rating to be greatly reduced, C) potentially wreck several other countries' credit because they hold so much of our debt -- from Canada to China, D) keep the government from paying employees and social security and what not, and E) would launch us head first into an economic crisis ... I'd say, let them do it. Go ahead. Wreck the country. See what happens. As bad as things are, there is a such thing as "worse." 

But there are many people depending on the government, the one they paid into, to help pay for surgeries, for medicine, and food. Unless this is about proving the right wing argument that "government doesn't work" is fulfilled by them furiously damaging, reducing and defunding government to the point where, yes, yes it WON'T work!

Of course though, most of this is silly. Senate leader Mitch McConnell has already balked, looking for a face-saving alternative where the onus of doing the thing that's been done more than 100 times before without incident would be put on the President. Ultimately, many Republicans (and their financial backers on Wall Street) won't stand for an ideological argument that is pro-burning our financial house down. This great game of chicken will end with the debt ceiling getting raised. But what "compromise" will be unearthed on the back end of this debacle and what the long-term outcome will be remains to be unseen.

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  • Response
    Once again we are watching the slow collapse of our economic system. It’s not the massive train wreck that snuck up on the world in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brother’s. It’s like OJ’s slow speed chase on the 405 in 1994. You see the problem in front of you, ...

Reader Comments (3)

My Grandfather was an anarchist, I thought he was crazy then, now I know he was right. Nothing will change until we march on Capitol Hill and remove them all!

I know we are too dependent on government money and we need to change that. But today, if we severely cut government spending - it will drag the economy lower in the short term. So are Republicans trying to make it worse?

We have seen before that unless they are forced to, Democrats will never cut spending. Stop spending! (Obviously the Republicans have spending problems as well)

I don't want to punish success, but some of the tax breaks are unjustified.

Spend less and collect more revenue - it really is that simple.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertarheelio

There is a lot of shame and blame here to share for this situation and that includes the American electorate.The shame in this debt crisis is the Tea Party Republicans seem hell bent on getting their way in spite of the "mainstream" GOP leadership that seemed to want to play this game of "chicken" with the president, but only up to a point. They feel they were given a "mandate" by the small group of folks that put them into office and they are sticking to it. Shame on the American voters that sat on their duffs and didn't come out and vote in the off year election of 2010. Both parties know traditionally there is a smaller turn out for those contests. From the start the GOP agenda has been to destroy Barack Obama or at least critically wound his presidency. So they fling around terms like "socialist" and use obstructionist tactics that gets their not-so-well-educated base frothing at the mouth and ready to charge into the voting booths at the next opportunity to "send a message" to that "N" in the White House. Shame on the Democrats for not stressing to their base how important it was to hold on to both houses of the Senate. I feel Barack could have gotten us out of Iraq and Afghanistan sooner (and left the Seals over there to get Osama Bin Lousy) so our country could stop hemorrhaging money and help get the economy moving again, but I understand - he would have been labeled "weak" and anti-defense which would've opened up a whole 'nother political can of worms. Having lived in Chicago for the past thirty years this reminds me of "Council Wars" where Harold Washington was dogged by a city council that prior to his election had been pretty damn docile for ALL of the previous mayors. What was different? Could it have been because he was black? Seems like deja vu to me.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeitu Hayden

"Congress is a place for pure-bred, poofy-haired, yappy Malteses, not for your neighbor’s smart but reclusive German Shepard mix."


"Go ahead. Wreck the country. See what happens. As bad as things are, there is a such thing as 'worse.'"

Freaking awesome and so on-point.

Great post, as usual.

July 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTamra
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