Jul 31, 2011 10:28 PM GMT
This the truly dangerous aspect to the debt ceiling "crisis" and one that I'm not sure I can forgive Obama for. I'm beginning to agree with those who think we should raise a truth leftists as a primary challenger.
Hunter on Daily KosOur picture-perfect demonstration of Washington as being little more than a dysfunctional collection of crooks continues today with further "negotiations" on top of an already preposterous notion: that we're going to blow up the nation's entire economy if a small group of partisan ideologues don't get what they want.
This never happened before, because in the past even ideologues had enough basic decency to not, you know, actually take the entire American economy hostage and threaten to shoot it unless they got some perks. They took the entire government hostage, during the Gingrich years (he wants to be president now, I hear), but the whole of the economy? Nope, that's new.
Right now negotiations are coalescing around the idea of a "Super Congress." The Super Congress would be that wonderous thing that every elected official in Washington loves to propose, because it is a body that is tasked with Doing Their Own Fucking Job For Them, once it has been sufficiently proven that nobody else has any competence whatsoever to do it. I think the notion of "Super Congress" was not enshrined in the Constitution because the founders, who were no slouches themselves when it came to cynicism about basic human nature, still couldn't conceive of a situation in which the existing Congress would be so spectacularly dysfunctional as to need such a thing.
Now, the original compromise, the Grand Bargain that set all of this in motion, is the casual acceptance by all parties (Republicans, Democrats and the media) that "threatening to destroy our own nation's economy for partisan gain" was an even remotely acceptable notion, as opposed to something that would be referenced at trial just before a person was dragged from the courtroom, placed before a firing squad and shot. No, I think we are long past the point where anyone seriously considered "the good of the country" to be more important than a partisan squabble, and, after all, the terrorists are saying that they're doing it for our own good.
So that was the original compromise. Since then, they've led us by the nose the entire way. The next compromise was that even though we're supposedly in a deficit crisis (hint: the numbers say we're not), and even though we're in a time of what was once called "catastrophic" unemployment (before all the politicians decided it was in their better interests not to point that out anymore), we weren't going to be "allowed" to raise any new revenue. That's been off the table since day one, and hasn't changed since. Altering the U.S. Constitution to give the Republicans what they want, now that's been on the table. But not raising taxes on the wealthy back to Clinton-era or Reagan-era levels.
The next "compromise" after that is that we'd put Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the block. Because while, say, altering private jet depreciation schedules is Right The Fuck Out, cutting grandma's ability to pay for food and medicine is damn bipartisan, and the sort of thing all of the well-to-dos in Washington can get behind. Never mind that Social Security isn't in trouble. Never mind that medical care issues in America don't have much to do with Medicare and Medicaid, which are two of the only medical programs in the nation that actually manage to work: they have been declared far too liberal and must go.
The subsequent "compromise" the GOP insisted on, and one that Democrats apparently are hellbent to deliver, is that they be allowed to keep the all the hostages for later as well. No simple debt ceiling increase, but a dizzying array of potential plots to make sure that the debt ceiling bomb stayed precisely where the Republicans want it, available for use all over again in a few months, if America didn't cave into their demands at those later dates as well. This has been a huge sticking point for the GOP.
All of these were previously declared showstoppers for both the White House and Republicans. All were then "compromised" in the Republican's favor.
So what "compromise" will be coming next? We have some ideas. But I've got a more pressing question: in exchange for all of these very-hard-right compromises, each one of them in and of itself expected to be damaging to the economy in some fashion, what have Democrats gotten in return?
What has the nation gotten in return, rather than a begrudging acceptance that maybe the incurred debts of the United States will not be defaulted on, as part of these incompetently partisan follies?
The most dangerous part of this game is the Grand Bargain we've already agreed to, which is that the very economy of the United States can be held hostage, successfully, in exchange for increasingly radical partisan concessions. The moment we started "compromising" rather than having the press, both parties, and the citizens calling that out as unacceptable, unpatriotic, and un-a-few-other-things, we allowed even it to be used as a hostage at every single point going forward, from now until doomsday.
That was stupid, and remains stupid. But we've bought into it now, and there seems no capability to undo it.