President Obama gave his seventh address to the nation Monday after yet another weekend went past with no solution to the crisis over raising the debt ceiling. Normally a routine procedure since it keeps the country from defaulting on Canada, the debt ceiling has become the newest political football used to trash this country all because Barack Obama won't be sensible and just have an unnecessary, but easy-to-smack-him-around-over needless scandal like every other president. The lack of hoochies creeping out of the woodwork or the starting of unnecessary wars on false pretenses has really left Republicans no choice but to just fight him on everything -- even the things they normally are fine with.
From Obama's speech:
The debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices. Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need. The debate is about how it should be done. Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get. How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?
Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.
If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.
For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet. Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people. We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – this one caused almost entirely by Washington.
Nothing like creating a crisis to prove an ideological point. Just like that time crazy leftists proposed that all presently pregnant women should have abortions in order to save abortion rights. Oh wait? That didn't happen? Most Democrats haven't done anything as Republicans and conservatives have actually made it more and more difficult for women to obtain legal abortions? Oh. OK.
Well, surely running the country into the ground in order to save it MUST work. It just has to. In House Speaker John Boehner's response to the President, he said the ONLY way to solve our debt crisis is to cut spending. There just aren't ANY other alternatives! Except if we raise revenue ... but that would be horrible if we rolled back those Bush Era Tax Cuts back to what they were under President Bill Clinton. After all, when those taxes were where they were under Clinton it was during that horrible economic boom period called the mid-1990s! It was just terrible! People were buying homes and still had jobs. Just awful.
OK. Fine. Maybe there's a chance that the Bush Era Tax Cuts didn't cost us THAT much revenue. Right?
What's crazy is if you just get rid of the Bush Era Tax Cuts, everything Obama has proposed since coming into office would be paid for. But we can't tax the "job creators" (who create no jobs), otherwise they'll create even less of the jobs they're not creating! And ending two wars (hence eliminating their costs) doesn't count as "cutting spending" to Republicans. Although, I'd argue that ending a war because you can't afford to wage it anymore does count as "cutting spending." Heck, ending ANY program that costs money is cutting spending. Are they going to shout "It doesn't count" on every thing Democrats propose cutting to meet their cutting fever?
Boehner said the President wants a "blank check." Which is hilarious, since the President keeps saying he wants both cuts and to raise some revenue because it makes no sense to put all the burden on cutting spending in an economic crisis on the people who are relying on the government for work, support and medical attention. I thought a "blank check" was like when Republican Congressman, now ex-convict, Tom Delay pushed through the prescription drug benefit in the middle of the night during the Bush Administration that left members of Congress crying on the floor. Delay bullied tons of folks, particularly members of his own party, into voting for this expensive, unnecessary thing.
Or, maybe a blank check is like all the times Bush wanted to do something, didn't budget it and Congress passed it anyway.
It's almost like if the President proposes something sensible House Republicans and conservative critics just accuse him of not being sensible because that's what Democrats used to accuse President Bush of being when he was clearly not sensible, with the whole "Let's start two wars and not pay for the shit" thing. Yeah. Why would anyone call that guy unreasonable? All he did was redefine torture once he realized what he authorized was illegal and said we could have some expensive wars and crazy credit to buy houses that folks could not afford, and that it would all be just dandy in the end.
What's not reasonable about that?
I get that we have a two-party system which means you basically get two groups fighting over who gets to wear the big boy pants every four years, but this whole march to "We care more about ruling than being responsible legislators" is wearing thin. The Democrats have essentially turned into Eisenhower Era Republicans because actual Eisenhower Republicans had to shift over to the Democratic Party after the GOP went to crazytown for votes. The country marching to the right has had more to do with extremes than people wanting a debt ceiling crisis to prove a point.
Under Reagan we had no problem raising the debt ceiling. Under Clinton, Republicans pushed for spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment (which didn't happen), but Clinton, with the strength of a great economy behind him, was able to find compromise and balance the budget. Then under George W. Bush, then Vice President Dick Cheney famously said "deficits don't matter." Spending ballooned and Republicans happily signed off on all of it. Now that a Democrat is back in office, we're back to "Oh, wait, deficits do matter!" and we're holding the nation's credit rating hostage.
From Joan Walsh at Salon.com:
Can there be any doubt that the Republicans' only interest here is making Obama fail? Let's review all the ways they moved the goal posts since the 2010 elections gave them new power. In December Boehner told the New Yorker that raising the debt ceiling would be the new House majority’s "first really big adult moment," adding "We’ll have to find a way to help educate members and help people understand the serious problem that would exist if we didn’t do it." For his part Obama said he expected a clean up or down vote, just like President Reagan got 18 times and George W. Bush got another seven times. But after Boehner negotiated his program-cuts-for-continuing-government deal, in April he began to make threats. "The president says I want you to send me a clean bill. Well guess what, Mr. President: Not a chance you’re going to get a clean bill," he told a GOP fundraiser. "There will not be an increase in the debt limit without something really, really big attached to it."
Obama decided to negotiate, but he demanded a dollar of tax or revenue hikes for every dollar of spending cuts. Republicans not only rejected revenue hikes, they demanded a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar the debt ceiling was raised. Obama began seeking a "grand bargain," in which he'd discuss Social Security and Medicare cuts (even though Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit) in exchange for at least revenue hikes. The earliest leaks about such a deal, believe them or not, all contained spending cuts three to five times bigger than revenue hikes. Then what happened? Boehner walked away from negotiations to close those deals – which would have infuriated many progressives, by the way, including me. And a few weeks ago, as the president got ever more conciliating, Republicans got more stubborn, now demanding a balanced budget amendment in whatever deal is reached.
I honestly don't think anyone has come out and said how extraordinarily apocalyptic and insane it is to tie that controversial old GOP issue to the debt ceiling hike, given the disaster for the American economy if we default. The balanced budget amendment lost favor under the deficit-building Ronald Reagan, when many Republicans decided deficits weren't really an issue – unless a Democrat held the White House. Tonight Boehner was on prime time national television telling Americans that's what it will take to increase the debt ceiling. Now, Boehner knows a balanced budget amendment bill can't pass. Hell, he probably doesn't even want it. But this is the way the GOP ups the ante every time the president gets close to a deal.
Well, the American people won't be happy, but at least John Boehner will really get to upset Obama, making him look cool to Eric Cantor and Rush Limbaugh, which seems to be the only thing that matters.
You see, it's all about Obama. It's not about grand bargains or complex efforts to devise a long-term bipartisan plan that will bring down the deficit without further endangering the economy and savaging the safety net. It's not about maintaining the full faith and credit of the United States. It's not about the difficulty of finding grounds for reasonable compromise. It's all about Obama.
As of this moment, still no compromise as Wall Street glares on. The great lurch towards turning America into a Third World country because a Democrat got elected and this time -- he's a black guy -- continues.