I only wish I had more time during the day to ponder all the developments in the “negotiation” in Washington, D.C. over raising the national debt ceiling, an issue that’s become wedded to an effort to cut government spending. And that’s a fine issue…if only more Congresses had spent more time thinking about cutting, or at least holding the line. Loren Steffy, one of the few bright spots at Houston’s Leading Information Source, observes that these are really two different issues and he makes a frightening case for the consequences we might all suffer if today’s Congress doesn’t pay the bills rung up in the past.
Since we last spoke on this matter, the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate has finally had something to say. After letting the speaker of the House and the House majority leader carry the fight against President Obama, Sen. Mitch McConnell offered a surprise solution to the impasse: give all the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling to the president, so the country won’t face an actual default but Republicans won’t have to take a record vote for higher taxes or a higher debt ceiling. Maybe he thinks he’s being clever, but he’s getting killed by “conservatives” who think he’s given up the sacred fight.
See, it’s really hard to trust labels. The Tea Party people, at least those who really drank the kool-aid, they say they’re conservative. But there are plenty of people who’ve been known as strong conservatives for quite a while (in just the past week I’ve cited David Brooks, Kathleen Parker and David Gergen, for example) who think the GOP in Congress may be going too far this time. Today I’ll add Steve Bell, who believes there will be a deal and no default, but that Republicans are spending so much energy protecting tax cuts for the richest Americans that the voters are going to smack ’em up-side their heads in November 2012 (I paraphrase). Gallup’s latest poll finds, not surprisingly, that Americans would prefer to fix the problem with only cuts in spending, although they weren’t asked to identify which cuts they supported, but most of the country favors a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. Perhaps because they’re smart enough to realize that the problem is too big to fix with just one or the other.
Now Moody’s is putting American government bonds on review for a possible downgrade, and even the Chinese—the Communist Chinese!—are urging the U.S. government to be responsible and think about protecting investors all over the world.
So I was thinking about all of that, and I remembered the words to a Terri Sharp song I heard performed by Don McLean:
When the gates are all down and the signals are flashing,
The whistle is screaming in vain,
And you stay on the tracks, ignoring the facts,
Well you can’t blame the wreck on the train