by Bob Geary
I admit it, I'm weary and too blase about ridiculous Republican politics and the failure of the Democratic Party to stand for anything. Obama gives the Republicans $38 billion in spending cuts when their opening bid was $33 billion? Par for the course. Perdue says hey, we don't need that whole 1-cent sales tax to balance the state budget, how about 3/4th's of it? (And we don't need that income-tax surcharge on the rich at all because, uh, er, Obama just gave them an enormous tax cut? Right, it makes no sense whatsoever ... but I digress.)
So Obama has caved in once again, and we're all wringing our hands. But here's one thing he can't cave in on: Paying U.S. Treasury obligations — bonds, notes, the debts of the country. And to do so going forward, Congress must vote quickly to increase the U.S. debt ceiling.
Now, did it occur to Obama to say to the Republicans last week that, yeah, I'll cave in again, but only on your solemn promise that you will do the right thing and increase the debt ceiling and NOT subject the country to the incredibly destructive spectacle of the United States threatening to — and maybe actually — defaulting on our debt?
And naturally, the Republicans believe they can roll Obama again and get even more budget cuts in return for not destroying the country. They not only believe it, they're brazen enough to say it out loud: WE Will DESTROY THE COUNTRY'S FINANCIAL STANDING UNLESS WE GET OUR WAY ON _____. (Fill in the blank, but making the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent will be part of it, as will deeper cuts to programs that low-income people need.)
I agree with Josh Marshall, the Republican position is equivalent to "make me an offer, or I'll kill your kid."
A fellow said to me Saturday night that never has an articulate person (Obama) said so little that registered with people. It's true. Obama is eloquent, but his eloquence is never in service of anything except whatever it is he's just given away.
Let's see if he can get eloquent about this: THERE MUST BE NO NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT INCREASING THE DEBT CEILING. REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT THIS MEASURE, AS DO DEMOCRATS IN THE HOUSE, AS DO DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE. THERE MUST BE NO DEBATE. NO ONE WHO CARES ABOUT THIS COUNTRY WOULD TRY TO DEBATE THIS ACTION OR ATTACH THEIR DEMANDS TO IT.
Negotiations about the fiscal 2011-12 budget can begin the day after the debt ceiling is increased. Not before.
If you, too, are blase — read this, from Think Progress:
THE NEXT FIGHT: Over the weekend, Republicans reiterated that the short-term funding negotiations were only a dress rehearsal for the looming fight over an increase in the debt ceiling. Boehner insisted on Saturday that there is "not a chance" Republicans will deliver a "clean bill" to raise the debt ceiling and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) predicted that "the White House and the president will actually capitulate" and agree to "spending caps, entitlement reforms, budget process reforms " in the debt limit increase. It is widely understood, however, that failing to raise the debt ceiling on schedule could have immediate and dire consequences for government services and the global economy. As the Center for American Progress' David Min has pointed out, it would force an immediate cut of approximately 40 percent to all activities of the federal government — a severe blow to our already struggling economy. It could also erode confidence in U.S. Treasury bonds, causing interest rates to spike and the possible destabilization of global financial markets. If investor confidence is eroded and Treasury rates go up, the higher costs of debt maintenance would counteract (and potentially could even be larger than) any spending cuts at issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has acknowledged as much, as has Boehner, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and conservative columnist George Will. This has not prevented many GOP lawmakers from threatening to vote down an increase in the debt limit if their partisan demands are not met. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said there can be no increase without entitlement cuts and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) demanded an implicit 44 percent cut in all government programs in exchange for an increase.