I remember once I went with a girlfriend for her first new car purchase. I’d been through the whole dance routine with new car salesman before and she wanted me to walk her through it. So I told her all the car salesman negotiation strategies such as: don’t take the first offer, don’t tell them you have $20,000 in cash from Daddy, every time the salesman says ‘let me talk to my manager’ you can get a lower price, always be ready to walk out no matter how much you love the car, etc.
So we test drove a couple of things and she fell in love with one car in particular. The list was $32,000 and she immediately told the guy Daddy had given her $20,000. I literally saw his pupils dilate. He said, “We can go to $29,000”. Before I could pull her aside she said, “I’ll take it”.
Sometimes I think the President is like my old girlfriend. So eager is he for compromise that he is willing to give up a lot to get even the appearance of playing nice. So far it has worked. Remember the lame duck session? The president was able to get everyone to cooperate and he got DADT, START, middle class tax cuts, and unemployment extension among other things. But it cost us. He had to dangle that two year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich in front of the Republicans like a golden piñata. And it will cost the country a cool trillion in lost revenues over the next few years to pay for it. But the President came out looking heroic because no one really thought the Republicans would budge.
Now the Republicans are shocked, shocked I tell you, that we’re in a budget crisis. It’s time to tighten the belt, call for austerity measures for everyone (wink), and cut spending, cut spending, cut spending. And where did Republicans demand to cut spending? We aren’t completely sure yet but we know a lot of it was from social programs and other programs that will cause job losses. Hey…didn’t these House Republicans just ride into power in 2010 on a platform of job creation?
So now we’re faced with working out the budget for the remainder of the year because Democrats were too afraid to address it last summer lest they curry disfavour and lose control of the Hou…oops.
The problem with the Republicans controlling the House is they get to write the bill first. That means they can demand all kinds of things that don’t necessarily have to do with the budget like de-funding NPR, Planned Parenthood, eviscerating the EPA, and so on. The Senate, even though it is in Democratic hands does not have a filibuster proof super majority so they become essentially a veto vote like the President.
The one thing that Republicans have learned through all this is how to hold the country hostage. Give them what they want or they’ll shut down the government; a strategy they apparently didn’t learn from the first time. Or perhaps they did because Speaker Boehner managed to avoid the shutdown by getting his caucus to agree to the final deal at the 10 ½ hour. Another crisis averted and the President says, “See? We can all come together”. Meanwhile no one is really happy with the deal and realistically it barely makes a dent in the budget.
But we’re just getting started. After George Bush rolled into town and squandered the Clinton era surplus on tax breaks for the rich and a couple of unfunded wars, we’re up to our ears in debt ($14.5 trillion last I checked) and the deficit needs to be addressed. We will need to raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid defaulting on our debts. Were we to default on our debts, the consequences would be much graver than shutting down the government; it would destabilize the world economy. No brainer, right? Raise the debt ceiling to avoid the calamity then figure out how to deal with the debt and deficit.
And this is where the outrage comes in. The Republicans are planning the same strategy as the recent budget fight over raising the debt ceiling. They plan to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to get more of their conservative agenda enacted. I’m surprised they haven’t demanded overturning Roe v. Wade in return for agreeing to raising the debt ceiling; something they have never failed to agree to. They would rather burn down the world economy in a selfish game of chicken to get their way.
I’m proud of my local Representative, Peter DeFazio. Affectionately known as ‘Da Faz’ because he’s kind of cool for such an unassuming guy, Rep. DeFazio recently called President Obama out on his seemingly insecure desire for everyone to like him. He is hoping to rally enough Democrats to encourage the President to push back against the Republican hostage tactics.
Co-founder of the House Progressive Caucus, DeFazio said that he and other caucus members will be pressuring the president to keep his campaign promises and “act like a Democrat,” adding that the biggest mistake House liberals made in November was to not push back against the president when he failed to represent the party.
“That’s what the House did wrong in the last Congress,” DeFazio said on MSNBC on Monday, “and in part why we lost is we never pushed back no matter how wrong he was or how off-base he was; we never pushed back.”
My Congressman is right. It’s time to take a stand against the House Republicans using this strategy of hostage taking. It’s dangerous, irresponsible, unreasonable, unethical, and a host of other adjectives I don’t have time to think up. Everyone knows the debt limit will have to be raised. How to address the core of the problem is a separate matter.
Oh the Republicans have a plan for addressing the debt and deficit. Rep. Paul Ryan has assembled the Republican’s ‘Path to Prosperity’. Any idea what some of their ideas for prosperity are? How about tax cuts for the wealthy; permanently? How about gutting and dismantling social programs like Medi-care? Yes it’s a path to prosperity for someone, just not for 95% of Americans.
The President will outline his idea for addressing the nations fiscal straits soon. I hope that he takes a hard line this time. Playing nice may have gotten him this far but play time is over. I hope that he governs the rest of this term as though he were a one term President. If it’s his last thing to do in office, I want to see those Bush tax cuts expire. The wealthy and corporations must pay their fair share like the other 95% of us.
We’ve got better things to do in this country than continually playing defense to the Republican conservatives in congress.
- Boehner makes plans to take more budget hostages (dailykos.com)
- Raise the ceiling, then talk deficits (timesunion.com)
- Pete DeFazio To Obama: ‘Act Like A Democrat’ (Huffington Post)
- Obama’s Fiscal Policy: Bipartisan Hill Leaders Fire Warning Shots (Huffington Post)