In a perplexing impending conclusion to the immediate Debt Ceiling “Crisis,” it appears another half-baked “Washington-Wins!” solution has been reached. The troubling question I find so perplexing is: “How many conservatives, who ultimately abandoned the Tea Party principles upon which they were elected, are now complaining that this deal doesn’t go far enough?” At any moment, rational folks are half-expecting to be hit by a pitcher of ice-cold water aimed at rousing them from a dream. No, you’re not dreaming. It’s maddeningly real.
After spending a week accosting the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin, for their allegedly dogmatic inflexibility, now that the deal seems done, Republicans and moderate Democrats have moved back to the position that this deal doesn’t go far enough to stave off the downgrade by the credit-rating agencies. While they promise a vote on a Balanced-Budget Amendment in the fall, it’s likely to be killed by the Senate, whatever happens in the House. Perhaps they’ll campaign again on a Balanced-Budget Amendment next time, too. I feel as though I should post some dead-air audio to accentuate the irony. When all is said and done, with all the pomp and circumstance, and all the tireless gnashing of teeth, it seems we’ve accomplished very little except to extend the credit card limit and yet again, much more has been said than done.
So, how much will be trimmed from the FY 2012 Budget? Hold onto your hats, because this is a true victory, and I cannot say this with sufficient sarcasm: Seven billion dollars. Yes, that’s right, a whimpering cut of 7 billion dollars. In the context of a nearly 3.5 trillion dollar annual budget, two-tenths of one-tenth of one-tenth of the entire amount certainly seems a much less significant sort of an immediate cut than ‘one-half of one-third of the government’ ought to have been able to manage. That said, consider this: When the now inevitable downgrade occurs, probably within 60-90 days, the amount of the interest payments on our existing and new debt will begin to balloon, and that whopping $7 billion, what of it then? It won’t be saved at all. It will be swallowed in the first month.
What’s the long and short of it? You tell me. Perhaps the few of you who’ve chastised me for calling Allen West to account would care to explain. Better still, maybe the 8pm-er‘s fill-in, and author of Thee I Zing would care to give an accounting, rather than cast aspersions at Sarah Palin. Maybe the 8pm-er can show up himself, to dazzle us with his feigned indignant demeanor. Will he blame the Tea Party still? Will the media join in the happy-dance over at the White House. Will Penny Lee now relent on her insufferable attacks against the “irresponsibility” of Sarah Palin or the inflexible Tea Party? No?
This entire show has been contrived to allow Washington to continue to do as it has done, without pause, for roughly two decades: Kick the can down the road at your expense. This despicable charade, frightening seniors, threatening service-members’ paychecks, and all the other ugliness that’s been associated has been intended to conceal the sordid truth of the matter: They don’t intend to fix this, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it, at least not immediately.
Oh sure, you can roar and burn up the phone lines, and raise a holy hullabaloo, but none of that will change what’s been done, or more accurately, what hasn’t, and you’ll be the ones stuck paying the price for decades through a permanently anemic economic outlook, rapidly weakening currency, and a real threat of instantaneous economic calamity. That’s what this entire fiasco has done for you. Well, that, and now the President can continue to spend as recklessly as ever.
Now that you’ve watched most of the House Republicans quit the fight, your allegedly-valiant warriors sent there to stave off calamity, what say you now? It’s bad enough that they’re signing on to this national economic suicide-pact, but what may be worse is the realization that there’s not the first thing you can do about it. For now. That says nothing of the future. Fifteen months from now, there will be another election. There will be another day for debate. There will be a chance to elect a different sort of candidate, and to sit some of these people down. In the coming year, you will have an opportunity to run primary opposition to these people. Find somebody eligible by virtue of character, credentials, and history to raise up the banner in your district. We need to build on the victories we made last fall, and we need to begin the chore of leading. Don’t assume anything. Don’t pretend to know the outcome. Just work like never before, and find the right people to represent you.
It’s time to call in the family. It’s time to sit them down and explain it to them. Let them know that you understand how busy they are trying to juggle making a living with raising their own young families. Draw it all out for them. Whatever you do, don’t let them avert their eyes from what’s been done, or how it will end. They need to know it. They need to prepare. Don’t just tell them, but instead show them how it relates to the increasing miseries they’re experiencing. Guide them to support candidates and campaigns on the basis of a firm understanding of the issues at the heart of this crisis. You’re people of authority in their lives, not merely because of your traditional position in the family, but because you’ve earned their respect. It’s time to show them why you continue to be worthy of that respect. Lead them. They will follow, and then they will go on to lead others.
You’re good and decent people, virtually all of you, and you’ve been fed a big air sandwich. You’ve lifted the corner of the top slice of bread to reveal only some spoiled mayonnaise. No lettuce. No tomato. No meat. There’s not much you can do but start over, again. The good news is that you now know the pitfalls. You know where you must focus your efforts, and you know how to get it done. Through all of these travails, you’ve sorted through the difficulties, and you now know where the real meat of the issues may be found. All that remains in your way is your indifference, your frustration, your anger, and your contempt for what is at the expense of what ought to have been. It’s time to put all that aside, and admit we can do more, all of us. It’s time, for once, to do more than has been said.