President Obama spoke to American voters on the debt ceiling debate Tuesday, urging them to contact their Senators and Representatives to support a balanced approach. American voters responded. Phone banks and servers lit up, locked up and crashed.
It would be a sucker’s bet that American voters were urging their Senators and Representatives to stand pat and let the world’s economies crash. Americans are not the fools Republicans hope they are. Although reporters, editorial writers, pundits and comedians have been at pains to blame both parties for this mess, voters know better. They know that this entire debacle lies at the feet of the Republican Party. For starters, it was they who campaigned for tax cuts and wars that turned President Clinton’s surplus into a$1.2 trillion deficit that Obama inherited. Further, for 25 years, the Republican Party’s untoward fealty to one man, Grover Norquist, instead of to the good of Americans in general has resulted in their “cuts only” approach to the deficit reduction debate that now bids fair to sink the American ship of state. Remember President Obama wanted a ‘clean’ debt ceiling vote to begin with. The Republicans pushed it into this quagmire of debt reductions no one can agree on.
President Obama and the Democratic Senate have steadily made concessions in this debate, with only one request in return, that the wealthiest Americans give up some of their tax breaks and coddling, and share some of the grief that will come with this package. A majority having sold their votes to Norquist, Republicans are hopelessly locked into a death spiral of rejection. If they agree to anything that Mr. Norquist deems a tax hike, he will make good on his extortion threat, and actively campaign against them. If they do not, they risk throwing the world into a financial turmoil it may not be able to extricate itself from for a long time. None of them seem to have the statesmanship to understand that Norquist’s extortion threat is the less important of the two.
Republicans have accorded agreement to concession after concession when they were broached, and then spurned when made public. Republicans now claim that since Obama and the Democrats won’t accept their proposal whole hog, they are being intransigent. But Democrats are at internal war over the concessions their leadership has made on Social Security and Medicare. The Republicans, on the other hand, have offered a two-step dance that yanks the deficit reduction part of the debate right into the height of the next election… a cynical ploy intended to make it possible for Republicans to claim that the administration would not deal (read: accept the ruinous Cut, Cap and Trade bill with its Balanced Budget Amendment attached) when the Republicans offered one.
The president said, “Make your voices heard!” Voices were heard, in support of the balanced approach. It’s time to DO this!