Nel's New Day

July 28, 2011

Congress Far Away from Reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:16 PM

Just when you thought that Washington couldn’t get any crazier than it has been, it turns “bizarro,” to quote Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Much as he tried to put a bipartisan spin on how the Democrats will compromise (as if they haven’t already when they dropped the possibility of any increased revenue in their proposal), you know that he’s shaking his head at the freshmen Tea Party representatives in the House who seem convinced that not raising the debt limit means not having to pay all the bills that the conservatives have rolled up in the past decade while taking away government revenue.

Like immature fraternity boys out of control, the ultra-conservatives have signed pledges for every far-right issue they can find, the latest one from 40 conservative organizations. The representatives signing this document vow to vote against any bill raising the debt ceiling unless it has devastating cuts, spending caps, and an amendment to the Constitution (which requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate) that would require a balanced budget. And all this in five days before the deadline of disaster.

Tea Party freshmen have consistently said that they don’t care if they get re-elected, that they are being obstructionist because that’s what they promised when they ran. Yet they drink the Kool-Aid given to them by these organization that provide them with millions in campaign funds. “Congress has proven itself incapable of responsibly handling taxpayers’ dollars so constraints need to be placed on the government to get our fiscal house in order,” Club for Growth said in a statement. “The conditions in this pledge help achieve that.” Obviously the conservative organizations believe that Tea Party members can’t be trusted to vote for cuts without their signature on a pledge.

Rep. Mike Lee (R-UT) is an example of this craziness. Interviewer Chris Matthews asked him, “You want the Democratic Senate, by a two-thirds vote, to pass a constitutional amendment or you want the house to come down?” Lee responded, “Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying and I’ve been saying this for six months.” Part of what Lee would write into the Constitution is that every single senior would lose one quarter of their Social Security and Medicare benefits. And that’s just one example.

Lee isn’t the only person who “wants the house to come down.” Donald Trump speaks for many conservatives when he said on Fox & Friends that if the GOP wants to ensure that President Barack Obama isn’t re-elected, all it has to do is not make any deals with Democrats and default on Aug. 2. These are the people who are in almost total control of what has been the greatest country in the world.

Mark Meckler, leader of the Tea Party Patriots and one of the organizations pushing the pledges, just wants spending cuts but has no suggestions of how to do it: “It’s not the job of individuals or outside organizations” to decide what cuts to make. His attitude toward a total refusal to raise the debt ceiling shows how far from reality the far-right folk are. When asked if he’s worried about defaulting on the country’s loans, he replied, “It’s irresponsible for anyone to talk about defaulting on our obligations because we’re not going to unless we choose to.” According to his “logic,” the country has no money because Congress will not raise the debt ceiling, but the country will pay their debts.

Boehner is much closer to that touch with reality when he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that some conservatives refusing to a compromise debt ceiling agreement are hoping to unleash “chaos” to force bigger concessions out of the White House and the Senate Democrats. At least he understands that failure to raise the debt ceiling would be devastating and the “chaos” plan will fail. “I think the closer we get to August the second, frankly, the less leverage we have vis a vis our colleagues in the Senate and the White House,” he said.

No matter how hard Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) has tried to get his rampaging mustangs into some sort of order, they won’t follow his lead despite the fact the House has historically been much easier to herd than the senators. In fact, these next few days may take Boehner from his position. The Tea Party Nation and Patriot members want to replace him. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been salivating to get the position, but the Tea Party prefers someone like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) or Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

The hardest argument to swallow in this mess is the comparison of family and government, the idea that because a family has to pay all its bills so should the government have massive damaging cuts. People don’t see the flaws in this false comparison. First, in raising the debt ceiling Congress is actually deciding whether to pay its bills, not whether to increase its spending. It had already increased the expenditures. Families don’t sit around and decide whether they plan to pay their rent or their electric bill—or whether to buy any food. Second, if families need more money, they tend to get a second or third or fourth job. But the conservatives are blocking all additional revenue—no extra jobs.

Conservatives are fond of comparing government to business, a far more practical comparison in this case. “Typical businesses borrow money and they never pay it off,” said Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He added that a corporate board would think a CEO was crazy if he announced that while the company lost money, it had paid off its debt. And all business leaders know that spending money is required in order to make more money, a philosophy that worked very well for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. On the other hand, George W. Bush’s tax cuts led the country into an almost-disastrous recession, and the continuation of them put the nation headed back into the same hole.

Conservatives can’t even get away with saying that they are doing this “for the American people” because those “people” want a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts with a compromise between Democrats and Republicans. In his summary of the polls, Mark Blumenthal said that “the surveys all show Americans expressing significantly more confidence and trust in President Obama’s handling of the issue than of either the Republican or Democratic leadership in Congress.”

Sad to say, the Democrats have caved to almost all the conservative demands . Starting with three-fourths cuts and one-fourth additional revenue, their latest proposal has no additional revenue. No getting rid of the government sugar daddy payments to big business and the rich. The two big points of contention are that the conservatives want a balanced-budget amendment—instantly—and the chance to come back in six months to argue about why they won’t raise the debt ceiling again. In the six months since Boehner took his Speaker position, the House has passed 12 bills compared with 558 during Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s 48 months. Fighting about the debt ceiling for over a month every six months would completely stymie any government progress.

Meanwhile the lobbyists are suffering. No Congressional bills, no revenue for them. All they could hope for was a major restructuring of the tax code, and that’s off the table right now.

Some of the “people” are now calling for representatives and senators to stop receiving pay checks until this is settled. It’s all about money; maybe that would stop the incessant politicking with no concern for the lives of U.S. citizens.

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