Read this editorial from today’s New York Times:
The GOP ins as well as the candidates believe that by taking this vow of financial fortitude, this oath to label any social diversity as deviance and a sworn promise to uphold personal moral integrity within their own families is going to turn this country around. I read the tale of these pledges and laughed out loud. The funniest part is their pledge to be morally upstanding in their own lives. I give that promise a week, at the outside.
The conservative Republicans have simply found another way to garnish votes. Should they decide to pass a balanced budget amendment, that process will take years. Should they continue to erase abortion rights, same-sex marriage aspirations and uphold religious prejudices against those sects that look different from WASPS, this crusade against personal freedoms will die a slow death. This frequent oath-taking is just another strategy to rile up public opinion and hopefully, have angry Americans reflect that dissatisfaction by voting Republican. Lip service is cheap and just might work at the polls.
The mainstream GOP has ceded power and reason to their Tea Party members. That move certainly beats the Republicans’ need to take a stand and action on the serious matters that are haunting us. The GOP is so willing to use the Tea Party members as sacrificial lambs to save their own gutless selves. And those brash, young Tea Party members of Congress are amenable to playing that role —- you know, anything for fifteen minutes of glory. When push comes to shove and the vote is taken in the House, let’s see if this Tea Party contingency will actually vote not to raise the debt ceiling and supposedly uphold their promises to their constituencies …. or if they will succumb to the constitutional inertia exhibited by their GOP cohorts. Just as Mitch McConnell’s suggestion of allowing President Obama to raise the debt ceiling limit by his own Presidential powers is merely a ploy for our Congressional contingency to avoid the tough decisions, so has presidential candidate Herman Cain piped up that we should treat Arab Americans as sinfully and discriminatory as we have his race for hundreds of years. This posturing and battle of words is an empty strategy to look strong. In reality, looking strong is a far cry from actually being strong.
Will these vacuous promises amass votes at the polls, or will the voting public see through this sham at governing? As of yesterday, a new poll showed that, while not overwhelming for either side, Americans have more confidence in the President than the GOP for debt ceiling increases. However, the actions of Congress are disgraceful in terms of these legislators upholding their oaths of office. Avoidance of the issues might save these hucksters at the polls, but it will not do a damn thing to put our nation back on the right track. Shame.
All of this posturing certainly beats getting down to brass tacks and actually legislating. Our deficit must be eliminated. Our wealthiest Americans must have their taxes increased. Our social safety net must be saved, even if at the bare minimum. Our infrastructure is falling apart. The United States is crumbling in so many ways, just like Humpty Dumpty breaking into so many pieces that he couldn’t be put back together again. And the opposition’s response is a pledge instead of actions.
President Obama is acting similarly. He has vowed not to sign off on a short-term, band-aid budget fix. He has placed his Presidency on the line by swearing that he will not cave in to severe cuts without a revenue increase. The debt ceiling must be increased, so even the President’s vows are meaningless. He is our leader and thus, the ultimate responsible party for preventing financial collapse of our union. As we stand now, it appears that Mitch McConnell’s Plan B has the momentum, which is a total abrogation of Congressional power. This Plan B is just another ploy to foist blame on the President and the Democrats. Unfortunately, their hands are pretty much tied and they are acquiescing to this self-destruction. Additionally, should this Plan B take effect, it will be used as an instrument to place all of the blame on President Obama for our dire economic situation. Political feasibility though, may dictate that in the absence of a compromise, Plan B will be the only alternative.
The stage is set. We have a Congress of chickens and an executive branch that is reasonably scared to call their bluff. Sure, it is easy for me, sitting comfortably on the political sidelines and not in the hot seat, to criticize. I do understand that our entire national and international viability is being tested. However, if we just raise the debt ceiling without repairing the underlying causes for that huge deficit, what have we fixed? Nothing. Perhaps the rating agencies, such as Standard and Poor’s, should lower our debt rating. Not necessarily to the lowest level, but maybe to a B or C rating as opposed to the current AAA. That would have a rippling effect and might knock some sense into our do-nothing government. But then again, S and P can be “bought” also and probably has even fewer balls than our esteemed government.
Pledges, shmedges. The Republican officeholders and aspirants are using these new (very old) tactics as a delaying tactic. Also, since they refuse to tackle the issues at hand, they are reverting to using inflammatory words to get the vote. Keep in mind though, that nothing, absolutely nothing is actually being accomplished on addressing the items on our agenda.
Go to your local drug store and buy out all the band-aids on the shelves. You are going to need them.