I have to hand it to my Conservative friends. You did it again, and I don’t blame you for dancing in the streets. I’m sure at this moment, Capital Hill is sporting many more Republican Boners at its head than merely the House of Representatives. Once again, you put in your closer in the bottom of the 9th, with bases loaded, and my President up to bat. And whiff. Funny thing, though, this game is nothing but a field of dreams. Yes, build an imaginary debt crisis, and they will come.
The American debt ceiling has been raised dozens of times in recent history, many during Republican administrations, with hardly any pang of heartburn at all. During the Bush administration the ceiling was raised no less than seven times without blinking an eye or binding its hands to budget cuts. Watch.
If you haven’t read Naomi Klein’s, The Shock Doctrine, I recommend it highly. Ms. Klein’s message conveys that in the media frenzy of war, disastrous acts of nature, or economic instability (if you can’t find one that is occurring at the time, make one up) legislation can be passed by agenda-led politicians that would never make it through the scrutiny of common sense during so-called normal times. The Patriot Act is an example tied to the War(?) on Terror, and now there is this debt deal in response to some manufactured debt crisis that began its rumblings shortly after the new Tea Party members of Congress were sworn in.
The stock market, unlike the bond market (indicator of true government debt), began fluctuating, sure, but the stock market is about as fickle as a teenage girl’s affection. If you think the stock market of today is an adequate indicator of our country’s economic stability, think again. Savvy politicians know it’s more a measure of our collective neuroses. When my therapist asks how much anxiety do I feel today, I say I don’t know, let me check the Dow Jones. The more scared the investor of impending world doom, the more jumpy the markets become. Thank you, 24/7 news cycles.
We can argue economic ideology until Michele Bachmann has an intelligent thought, but it’s no great secret that I’m a demand girl. I believe spending creates demand, and in an unprecedented time where the private sector either can’t…or won’t, then the government has to. Cut government spending programs like food stamps right now, and where will WalMart or Safeway make up the difference in sales?
A myriad of independent economists, the Simpson-Bowles Commission, even that loathsome Gang of 6(66), recommended increased taxes and decreased tax loopholes, along with spending cuts, if there absolutely has to be a budget deal as ransom for the debt ceiling raise. I would have yelled my opposition to cuts in education, the interior, Pell Grants, and yes, health care, but I would have swallowed it with a shot of something strong knowing that with increased revenues there would be a truly shared sacrifice.
What the hell happened? All tax revenues are off the table? I can hear it now, “But ‘Schmootz, there are Republican-prized defense cuts in the package.” Oh, well I’m sorry, I feel much better knowing that the Republicans got only 98% of what they wanted! Oh, and then you say, “But ‘Schmootz, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in 2012.” Baaahahahahaha! Watch.
I used to lament the fact that my President is weak in the face of Republican strategy. I used to say that he is at heart a community organizer, and therefore a bad negotiator, as he always begins his bidding from the middle. Now I’m beginning to think my President is less a victim of this train wreck and more a driver of the locomotive. First a watered-down healthcare bill with no public option, second, a complete cave-in on cutting the Bush tax cuts, and now what could be called a possible evisceration of the defining ideals of the Democratic party over the last 40 years. I don’t know what else to call it any more. I need to see some kind of strength in leadership.
Now some “O”-bots might call me a whiner and a complainer, and that I should support the Democratic ass no matter what. Well, that’s not going to happen. Starting today, I reached my own economic ceiling. This is to let all those who are sending me emails and mailing me forms of intent, just stop. My maximum private contribution is going instead to my local food bank and my local school; the shelter for the working poor and the elderly center; Project Angel Heart and Meals on Wheels…and if I forgo a few shopping trips, there is extra for Planned Parenthood and a few others. I’m putting down a few in-town grass roots.
Mr. President, can I really break away from the political process and redirect my own discretionary funds in a way to help those who are actually hurting out there? Yes, I can.