A Pox on Both Their Houses

How did the debate over the debt ceiling – something that should be a no-brainer – become such a huge political football?  I blame both the Republicans and the Democrats.  How did the “deal” that emerged last night end up such a disaster for America?

Republicans irresponsibly attached a routine debt ceiling vote to deficit reduction.  Why was that done there, instead of via the appropriations process?  That’s where it belongs, not on the debt ceiling.  The debt ceiling, of course, is not connected to appropriations; it finances deficits that Congress already authorized.  But instead Republicans acted like three-year-olds with their “I want it now and I’m not taking no for an answer” negotiation style.  They have good negotiation skills, but at such a cost to the country.  A pox on their house.

Democrats simply allowed the Republicans to control the debate, allowing them to frame it the way they wanted.  That’s weak – weak on President Obama’s part and weak on Congressional Democrats’ part.  And then Obama caved in the end.  Weak.  And the health care bill, which was needed, was done at the wrong time.  Obama’s agenda should have been all about jobs.  But he got sidetracked.  And why not raise the debt ceiling last December?  Kicking the can down the road didn’t work.  No wonder so many on the left (me included) are so angry at Obama.  A pox on the Democrats’ house.

Who loses in all this?  Americans do.  States do.  The unemployed do – there’s no extension of unemployment benefits in this deal.  It is plain nuts to cut government spending while the economy is this weak.  Did we learn nothing from the Great Depression?  History definitely does repeat itself.  Yes, disaster was averted (the House passed this mess today; the Senate votes tomorrow) and the United States won’t default.  But the economy remains stalled and cutting a lot of government programs will put more people out of work.  This deal is going to push us right back into recession.  Great job, US government.

This paragraph might be a bit naïve, but what happened to people in Congress and the administration who actually put the country first?  Ted Kennedy could be as partisan as they came, but he’d work across the aisle to make deals when they needed to be made.  Tip O’Neill did as well.  So did Ronald Reagan.  What happened to these people?  These days we have leaders like John Boehner, who can’t control his conference.  We have leaders like President Obama and Harry Reid, who keeps caving to the Republicans.

Boehner (and others) glommed on to the tea party movement as a path to power last fall.  How well has that worked out?  Let me answer: It’s been a calamity.  I hope people wake up and get these people out of office next fall.  They have misread their mandate, just as they think Obama has.

And the world laughs at us.  A pox on both their houses.

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