A Manufactured “Crisis”

| July 31, 2011 | 7 Replies

The whole debt ceiling “crisis” is the latest battle in The Republican War on Christmas and, as usual, completely manufactured by Republicans for narrow political ends.

Since March 1962, the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times, according to the Congressional Research Service. Ten of those times have occurred since 2001.

The debt ceiling has been raised all these times without any of the Republican shenanigans now going on. If a default occurs, it will be solely the fault of Republican hyper-partisanship and completely unnecessary. If a default occurs, our nation’s economy will go into the tank as immediately billions of dollars will be extracted from the nation’s economy crushing any economic recovery and devaluing stocks by at least one third and causing a loss of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of at least 5%. The US economic crash could spiral into a worldwide crash and precipitate another Great Recession or a New Depression.

All of this will solely be the fault of Tea Party and other Republicans who have bastardized the debt ceiling process into a super high stakes game of chicken and have bet the welfare of America and maybe world’s economy on the outcome. Some of the leaders of the Republicans and the Tea party don’t believe there is any imminent risk of a default and continue to play chicken.

Now that Republicans have taken control of the US House of Representatives and use their threat of filibuster to stymie any progressive legislation from passing the US Senate, Republicans have picked this “debt ceiling crisis” as their latest and greatest fight to wrest blackmail from the country in the furtherance of The Republican War on Christmas. Republicans have posited a series of ever more extremist and radical plans to restructure government under the guise of “fighting the deficit.”

But, lest we forget, the Republicans precipitated the entire debt “crisis” with their tax cut and spend policies which raised the national debt from $1 trillion when Ronald Reagan took office to nearly $11 trillion the day Bush left office. Republicans are not fiscal conservatives. It is ridiculous for any political party to call itself fiscally conservative when that party is responsible for a 1,000% increase in our nation’s debt!  See here, here and here.

So, why are Republicans picking a fight on the debt ceiling? The usual President Obama response to Republican school yard bullying is to turn over his lunch money without a fight so he can feel like a nice guy. And that’s exactly what President Obama did. President Obama went from a requirement of revenue increases as part of a deal to caving in to Republican bullying and going for a spending cut only “compromise.” But, a compromise for the Republicans means getting all of what they want and giving up nothing for the deal. A compromise for the Republicans means Obama throwing seniors, the disabled, the poor, pregnant women, the unborn, infants, children, students, widows and orphans under the bus by allowing for the destruction of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in the fashion of what is desired in The Republican War on Christmas.

President Obama has blinked and has quisling-ed out to say he will accept a debt ceiling bill which solely consists of cuts and no new revenues. But, Obama’s lack of spine is neither what precipitated the debt ceiling crisis or what causes it to continue, it’s just the latest in Obama’s pattern of caving in to the Republican school yard bullies and handing over his lunch money without a fight so there’s no conflict and he can feel like a nice guy.  See here and here.

Republicans have been counting on President Obama’s usual behavior and him making himself into a non-entity in the discusssions as Obama has already gutlessly conceded their main argument that all we need is cuts. Now, the Republicans will stop by the threat of filibuster anything coming out of the Democratic US Senate and dare Senate Democrats to vote down whatever claptrap the Tea Party extremists and the US House’s own quisling leaders ship over in the next several days. No matter what happens, the Republicans’ spin will be either “We win!” or “It’s the Senate Democrats’ fault!” The frame is perfect for the demise of the Democrats but, all of America will lose as a critical battle will have been lost to Republicans in the Republican War on Christmas.

It’s time for President Obama to draw a line in the sand and tell the bullying Republicans: “No! Hell No!“ President Obama has to tell Republicans “We need a ‘clean’ bill now!” President Obama needs to make it clear that anything but a “clean” bill will be vetoed. If necessary, President Obama needs to be prepared to use the 14th Amendment to unilaterally increase the debt limit.

Let the Republicans sue or whatever. President Obama didn’t pick this fight, it was the crazy Republicans with their continued cries for more and bigger GW Bush-style tax giveaways to corporations and millionaires at the expense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The last round of Republican tax cut insanity gave us the Great Recession and a record national debt.

Mr. President: Lead us not into damnation; end the Republican insanity now!

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Category: Economy, Politics

About the Author ()

imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.

Comments (7)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Tim: What do you propose after Obama would invoke the 14th Amendment? Business as usual? Keep borrowing 40% of every dollar the federal government spends? I know that you’ll be in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy. So am I. But what about spending. Do you see the need to dramatically cut federal spending? If so, can that be done without throwing the country into depression? If you’d cut, where would you cut?

    One more thing, the numbers I’ve seen have indicated that there is NO WAY this country can pay for the George W. Bush enhanced Medicare program in coming years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States) What would you do about that?

    Finally, you have portrayed only the Republicans as villains here. How do you characterize the other party’s actions, most of them sitting on their hands and letting this crap go on and on? Heroes?

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald:

    In other words, a slew of millionaire politicians who spent the last decade exploding the national debt with Endless War, a sprawling Surveillance State, and tax cuts for the rich are now imposing extreme suffering on the already-suffering ordinary citizenry, all at the direction of their plutocratic overlords, who are prospering more than ever and will sacrifice virtually nothing under this deal (despite their responsibility for the 2008 financial collapse that continues to spawn economic misery). And all of this will be justified by these politicians and their millionaire media mouthpieces with the obscenely deceitful slogans of “shared sacrifice” and “balanced debt reduction” — two of the most odiously Orwellian phrases since “Look Forward, not Backward” and “2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.”

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/07/31/democrats/index.html

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    Y’know Erich, sometimes the things you write in response to my posts seem to verge upon what you yourself call “conflict pornography.”

    To insist that fallout of The Republican War on Christmas is the Democrats’ fault or that the Democrats are complicit is simply not credible.

    It is certainly true the Democrats have not responded well to the Republicans’ plans. It is more certainly true that it appears that Democrats are incompetent to respond to Republicans’ plans (“incompetence bordering upon conspiracy” I used to call it). What is most true is the unless there is some spine inserted into the Democratic leadership in this country, the Democrats will make themselves irrelevant even more quickly than as mere casualties of The Republican War on Christmas.

    We’ve discussed this before and the frame of the Republicans is that of the “strong father” and frame of the Democrats’ is that of the “nuturing mother” but, Lakoff has done work to allow the use of the Democratic frame successfully to counter the Republicans.

    I guess the real starting date for The Republican War on Christmas was the date of the “Powell Memo” to the US Chamber of Commerce outlining exactly what the corporations and millionaire (now billionaire) backers of the Republicans should do to rule, not govern, America.

    The organizational chart for the GOP is a pyramid, with the money organizations and people at the bottom and out of sight. The money funnels up to fund groups like The Heritage Foundation or The Hoover Institute and such to provide homes for corporate conservative viewpoints and to promote those viewpoints in the media, on campus, and in staffing public entities and campaigns. The next folks are the out-front faces who take the corporate viewpoint (some say corporate fascist viepoint)legitimize it and put it into the mainstream of media, ala Fox News and the Newscorp media conglomerate. That way the peer review function of the GOP is fully vested in the hands of the conservative media and their front people (Fox, WSJ, Hannity, Limbaugh, etc.) and like Ralph Nader said; “the corporations got together and created a candidate, they named him George W, Bush!” It really doesn’t matter which cypher is selected by and for the corporations, what matters is that he/she follow the program and advance The Republican War on Christmas.

    The Democrats follow the old adage of not belonging to an organized political party. The Democrats use an inverted pyramid as the structural model which requires the re-invention of the wheel for every campaign for every candidate in every race. The candidate self-selects and is at the point of the inverted pyramid and then tries to reverse engineer the GOP pyramid with the money at the top. The Democrats have exacerbated the problem by creating a candidate selection process of open primaries which is is ideologically flawed and subject to peer review only by the media which decides which candidate has the “big Mo” or is the “new face of poltics” or whatever. The need for the 15 second soundbite or the 30 second commercial prompts canddiates to steer to points of view more nearly that of the other party (which gives rise to some criticism that both parties are the same but, they’re not!)so as to not alienate potential money people.

    Barack Obama and his people have tried to re-make the party structure of the Democrats into more of a typical pyramid. The efforts of the Obama campaign in 2008 were of a new level of organization, co-ordination and success in all aspects of political campaigning. The same folks who were successful at the campaign attempted to translate that campaign success into governing success but, were not as successful as the focus point of their efforts was the 553 people in Washington and no matter how many people (like me) there were signing up for support of a policy, that number was difffuse and not as concentratd or well funded as the all-out efforts of the anti-Obama interests. Another problem with the Obama efforts was the vague nature of the policies advocated like “health care reform” but, no mention of specifics like a public option or single payor. Outside organizations realized the need to copy the GOP model so as to make the Democratic response to The Republican War on Christmas more organized over time and more sustainable. Groups like MoveOn.Org and DFA reflected this trend and advocated specifics for such matters as health care reform but, there aren’t enough funds as yet for them to be fully effective. Much of the conservative media and punditry also spends time defaming and spreading false controversies about the outside groups supporting Democrats, and have had a large degree of success at such efforts. As a response to the Democratic efforts to deflect the GOP efforts, I believe the Citizens United case also was decided to allow for unlimited corporate giving to “non-profits’ which have no transparency or accountability to voters at large. The anti-Obama interests literally have hundreds of millions, perhaps billions to spend now!

    So, the first thing we do is, get in all the lawyers! The Democrats need to re-do their organizational and structural model for politcal and electoral efforts. Don’t be the Republicns but, you can organize your structure similarly. I think the re-structuring of the Democratic Party needs to be started by a series of meetings around the country to get as many people involved and committed as possible. Start up a series of community foundations to advance progressive goals and ultimately allow those groups to coalesce as needed around areas of common interest. I see more and bigger grass roots efforts at the local and statewide level towards forwarding an agenda for progressives as a major part of the re-structuring of the Democratic Party. In Missouri, we did this in the 70′s to pass an anti-CWIP ballot intiative which still keeps utilities from including costruction work in progress out of the ratebase and keeps the risk of such investmants where they belong, with shareholders. More recently, we passed a state minimum wage law by ballot intiative. I have written about these also in “Quo Vadis.”

    So, Erich. when you ask; “what would you do?”

    1. I don’t have as a starting point that spending cuts and entitlement reform are the sine qua non of sound fiscal policy for America. I have written how I felt the stimulus plan should have been done and repeat that here as Obama’s plan may have been only what he thought was poolitically do-able but, included too many corporate tax breaks and far too little funding for infrastructure. We need a real stimulus plan to rebuild the educational and economic infrastructure of America, say $150 billion. We could start by collecting the $30 million a week in sales taxes on airline tickets now in the hands of airlines but, not the government which the GOP House has stopped by blocking funding for the FAA unless the Democrats allow a “non-vote” on any union certification election to count as a “no vote.” Yeah, union guys, that’ll do!

    We need to adopt a more reasoned policy for transportation infrastructure funding that adopts “cost causer-cost payer” approach to funding.

    If the new approach means more and higher taxes on gas then, so be it.

    If the new approach means higher taxes on trucks, surface, air or water or rail transportation, so be it.

    2. Tax breaks for Big Oil companies which representatives of testified under oath in the US Senate in 2006 that they didn’t need should be eliminated, now.

    3. Tax breaks for the top 2% of American incomes should be eliminated now.

    4. The first $20-30K of wages should be exempt of federal taxes ala Robert Reich’s plan which I have written about.

    5. Make Medicare universal, not just for seniors.

    6. Get rid of corporate welfare, now! The fact that American corporations get tax breaks for sending American jobs overseas is obscene! Get smart guys like Jim R. and others to go through the budget line item by line item and get rid of the corporate welfare. We don’t need to give money to US arms manufacturers to sell their arms overseas.

    7. Have the Office of Technology Assessment or whatever it is now, go over the non-tarriff trade barriers to the import of US goods to other countries and target loan guarantees to businesses to retro fit manufacturing plants to build US goods which are of better quality and more exportable.

    8. Stop messing around with long-term unemployment benefits, the money spent generates $1.65 dollars in economic activity for every $1.00 spent, the best of any taxpayer investment.

    9. Look at whatever else I mentioned in my post “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid.”

    10. Whatever else might work regardless of whose idea, from what party or person. What say you?

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Bill Maher explains the Republican long-game: Hurt the economy in order to win the election. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44011746#44011746

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