Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ain't Nobody Happy

Whether viewed as eleven dimensional chess or simply a kabuki dance, the current stalemate on raising the debt limit makes it clear that there is no adult in charge in Washington.

The Democrats can't seem to get their president's attention on the fact that cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would be political suicide for them and for him come 2012.

The Republicans, facing the same quandary, also can't seem to get the freshman Tea Party contingent in the House on board with any kind of deal short of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget (probably cast with a no-new-taxes clause).

Both sides are in disarray.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a political warning that the party risked losing the next election if Republicans persisted on their current path.

So far, such warnings have had little impact in the House of Representatives, where many members of the Republican majority, particularly newly elected "tea party" conservatives, have vowed to let the government default on its bills rather than vote for any debt ceiling increase. House GOP leaders have said they will vote for an increase only if it is accompanied by a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, deep cuts to Medicare, or other spending restrictions that President Obama has rejected. ...

The Republican disarray contrasts with a tradition of GOP unity and discipline, having the effect of making Democrats appear nearly unified. But many Democrats are as anxious about where the White House is headed with debt negotiations.

Beleaguered liberals are perturbed by Obama's eagerness to cut a deal even it means changes to entitlement programs.

"It shows a willingness to throw us under the bus, politically speaking," said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

In the mean time, the clock is ticking and we are drawing ominously close to defaulting on our debt.

There is no logical reason for tying raising the debt ceiling to reducing the budget deficit, but the GOP made a big deal out of it, tying the two issues together tightly in an attempt to make Obama and the Democrats look bad in time for the 2012 elections. However, GOP congressional leaders didn't reckon on the recalcitrance among members of their own caucus when it came to making a deal.

But the Democrats are hardly blameless in this drama. They acceded to the idea of deficit cuts without even a murmur that, given the current joblessness, cutting spending was not good for the economy. And the leader of their party, Barack Obama, seemed perfectly willing to give up as much as possible to make nice with the opposition, regardless of the cost.

Well, we elected them all, so we deserve what we've gotten. I'll tell you what, though: when those social security checks don't come out, there are going to be a lot of recipients who will be furious, not to mention devastated. And I'll be one of them.


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