Edward White: Democrats can’t cede control to tea party; Congress must first lift debt ceiling to get on course to fiscal reality
June 11, 2012 at 4:12 am
There are ways to avoid déjà vu when Congress votes on the debt ceiling this summer:
Will the RepubliCANTS follow the lead of the tea party radicals and hold the American economy hostage to their sophomoric, nonnegotiable demands for deep discretionary spending cuts but with no counterbalancing revenue enhancers?
1) The president and the Senate could abdicate all power to the RepubliCANT-controlled House; or 2) Kick the can down the road until after the November elections.
The president and the Senate are not about to cede power to the tea party; so that pretty much leaves us with a deferral until late November or early December. One other possible scenario: the emergence of a “grand bargain” that contains deficit reductions of, say, $4 trillion over 10 years, including revenue enhancers (letting part of the Bush tax cuts expire) as well as major spending cuts.
It is sad that any such deal would be required to get a simple, mandatory debt ceiling increase. The money has been spent. The debt ceiling increase only legitimizes the borrowing necessitated by prior Congressional action. No action would place the government in default of its obligation. Debt ceiling increases have been routinely passed for decades irrespective of who was in the White House. Ronald Reagan received debt-ceiling increases from a Democratic-controlled Congress. Bill Clinton received cooperation from Republican Congresses.
Republicans were Republican then, not RepubliCANTS. The know-nothing tea party had not surfaced. Congress actually worked. Budgets were passed and both parties negotiated expenditure cuts. The welfare reform act was one example a two-party compromise. Neither attempted to issue nonnegotiable demands. During the period of divided power, Clinton with the acquiescence of Congress, balanced the federal budget. He left George W. Bush a sizable surplus. That would be possible if all parties bargained in good faith.
But today’s tea party wing of the RepubliCANTS does exactly the opposite. It issues nonnegotiable demands that if agreed to by Democrats would accord the tea party de facto control of Congress.
Grover Norquist’s no tax increase pledge leaves no room for a sensible agreement. Democrats are not about to permit huge cuts to domestic programs that are essential for the nation’s poor, its elderly and other disenfranchised citizens. The Democrats’ resolve has been strengthened by the huge tax cuts primarily to the wealthy that were enacted in 2001 and 2003 and even further tax cuts for the rich and the richer promised by Willard Romney.
Proponents of tax cuts for the wealthy have falsely claimed that tax cuts promote capital investment and more jobs follow. None of the supply-side theorists explain why in the decade following the Bush tax cuts that scenario did not pan out. It did not work because the middle class had no money to spend to generate demand for products. Without adequate demand for products job growth disappeared and unemployment grew.
The job figures for May produced obvious RepubliCANT satisfaction, as they have refused to act responsibly on several job bills proposed by the president. The RepubliCANTS’ glee verified that they are solely interested in defeating Barack Obama. They betray the interest of the country for their own narrow, partisan gain.
When Bush handed over the management of the government to Obama, the nation was already bleeding 750,000 jobs per month. Should the country be stupid enough to engage in more economic folly? I think not. RepubliCANTS need a reality check. Tea party members need to get real. Democrats need to continue to fight for the middle class.
Each of us needs to write to our congressperson and demand swift, unconditional action to increase the debt limit ceiling. We all need to watch carefully who does what. I am tired of people blaming the “Congress” for screwing it up when really it has been really the RepubliCANTS. See for yourself!
Edward White is a member of the Indian River County Democratic Executive Committee. Email: Ewhite@indianriver democrats.net.