Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Drama Makes Everyone Look Incompetent

The debt ceiling stuff makes me sick to my stomach.  Despite the fact that the warnings about default are clear and dire, our elected leaders seem to be only interested in political showmanship and not actually solving the problem.

On the one hand you have the Republicans who are the party much more responsible for our unwieldy debt, refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless all of their suddenly austere measures are met without any inkling of desire to compromise on any issue.  They are the major cause of the problem, are completely hypocritical about government debt and size now that they believe it is politically advantageous, and are unwilling to negotiate like responsible adults to avoid the catastrophe they precipitated.  They are more interested, it seems, in pleasing their corporate overlords than doing what is right for the American people.  Here is one graph, among many many many, that illustrates the level to which Republicans are at fault for the debt:


From the New York Times

On the other hand you have the Democrats who seem to only care about reelection, not solving problems, caving on almost every issue because they think the more they move to the right the more electable they will become.  Every time they make a move towards a compromise, without anything offered in return, the Republicans pull the chair out from under them and move it a little further to the right.  The Democrats get up, brush themselves off, offer fresh cuts to Social Security or offer trillions in cuts without any increases in revenue (e.g. raising taxes on the wealthy), without any compromises from Republicans in return, and go to sit back down again only to come crashing to the ground as the chair is pulled out from under them yet again.  Too stupid to learn, I guess.

Meanwhile, the public is overwhelmingly in favor of raising taxes on the rich; closing huge tax loopholes for corporations; keeping Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid intact; and raising the debt ceiling to avoid another economic downturn.  Somehow the Democrats have turned all that into a losing hand and seem destined to weaken the liberal legacy in return for some non-existent political victory.

I am all for big cuts in spending in order to get the debt under control.  I'm all for cutting out some of the enormous amount of fat in government.  But it has to be done responsibly, and that means raising taxes on the rich and corporations and not gutting the social safety net for millions of poor and elderly Americans.  It mostly means doing everything we can to make the economy strong again, which hinges mostly on creating local and sustainable jobs for average Americans and not showering the wealthy and corporations with more tax breaks and kickbacks.

No one wins no matter what happens in the next few days.  What a miserable time to be a political partisan.

5 comments:

Passionate Moderate Mormon said...

I still have hope the President has a few things up his sleeve (eternal optimist, me!) And I disagree that this cautiousness is all about getting him re-elected. I think he has been following the same script all along that he knows his very existence as president is trans-formative and anything more he gets in his pragmatic, slightly left accomplishments, is icing on the cake. His greatest risk since January 2009 is to go too far, too fast unleashing all the Tim McVeighs, Justice Taneys, and Jefferson Davis's. The tea party and even the O'Beckitybaughs will fade. Eventually. President Obama will be part of history forever and in a positive way.

Jacob S. said...

I like your optimism and I hope you are right. There are some very interesting articles and polls recently that show that Obama is losing the left. They'll still vote for him, to be sure, but they likely won't have the same energy and dedication they had in 2008, and that could be very bad for his reelection prospects. Soon, very soon, he needs to start championing liberal issues that the majority American people agree with, like preserving social safety net programs and making the wealthy and corporations more accountable to the American people.

Architect said...

Is there a good reason to go into more debt?
We already have the most extensive infrastructure in the world.
We already have the largest military in the world.
Why exactly do we need more federal debt?
Shouldn't we start reducing our debt?

Jary Welker said...

'The Mormon Left' - what an interesting paradox. As one who started his political experience voting for George McGovern the first time I could cast a presidential vote, I feel the left is all but out of new ideas and their old ideas of throwing new money after old is definitely not a winning proposition. The debt ceiling debate was a frustrating one for sure but I suspect for different reasons on my part. Let the government be accountable for the money they take from us in taxes and spend, and that accountability includes demonstrating that the programs that are funded are still functioning as they should. If one is honest in this discussion they will admit that no one is seriously out to starve the poor as they line the pockets of business moguls yet that was the debate. Overall government closest to the people governed is the most representative and usually most effective and the debt ceiling debate to me was more about demanding more accountability of our federal government, and what is wrong with the concept of returning and reporting?

Jacob S. said...

"'The Mormon Left' - what an interesting paradox."

How so, Jary?

"I feel the left is all but out of new ideas and their old ideas of throwing new money after old is definitely not a winning proposition."

The first clause is just an expression of your political philosophy and not a meaningful critique. I feel the right is all but out of new ideas. Not really compelling either way.

The second clause is as strawman.

"Let the government be accountable for the money they take from us in taxes and spend, and that accountability includes demonstrating that the programs that are funded are still functioning as they should."

I agree with this completely. I have written in the past, most notably in regards to the Wikileaks stuff, that we should demand more transparency and openness from our government, we should demand that these very useful programs that our government runs to aid the poor and elderly be efficient and have as little fat as possible. I favor reforming poorly-run programs instead of doing away with them altogether because I believe they do more good than not.

"If one is honest in this discussion they will admit that no one is seriously out to starve the poor as they line the pockets of business moguls yet that was the debate."

Strawman again, Jary, at least around these parts. Although there are plenty from both parties who are merely the pawns of their wealthy donors because that's how to get reelected.

"Overall government closest to the people governed is the most representative and usually most effective"

I generally agree with this, although I am conflicted about some of the results. I've discussed at length my inner conflict in regards to states' rights here. But I agree with you and the Green Party and local control is best, with the caveat that there are strong standards that are applicable to all Americans in areas such as workers' right, health care, the environment, and the like so that some states aren't rewarded for racing to the bottom. Equal opportunity for all Americans is essential.

"the debt ceiling debate to me was more about demanding more accountability of our federal government"

I didn't see this at all in the debt ceiling debate, and I think you are reading too much into it. What I saw was a Congress and Presidents of both parties, but the Republicans in particular, who had run up massive debts over the past few decades. Then when it came time to raise the debt ceiling to pay for those debts one party held the economy hostage for nothing more than political gain. As evidence that this was for political gain only, when the president offered $4 trillion in deficient reduction with some revenue increases, the Republicans said no. They finally took a smaller package. The Democrats, on the other hand, are almost completely devoid of leadership and vision. The whole thing was awful. I saw nothing about accountability or higher ideals at all. It was pure, dirty politics.

"what is wrong with the concept of returning and reporting?"

Nothing, but it has nothing to do with the debt ceiling stuff.