Monday, July 18, 2011

Both Sides Suck

I've been listening, as most of the people in America who are at all cognizant of the political happenings in the country, to the partisan debate about raising the debt ceiling. I have voiced my own thoughts and opinions, of course, but this post isn't going to be able what I think should or should not be done, nor is it going to address any particular statement. Rather, I'd like to criticize the approach to "resolving" the problem taken by both sides. I realize that typically I find myself more angry with Democrats than Republicans, however in this instance, I think the approach coming out of both sides stinks.

First, let me address the Republicans. It's true that the country had a huge spending problem, and your party would seem poised to capitalize on the growing realization of such among the slow-witted populace, and the rising sentiment that something needs to be done to stop the slow bleeding to death. You started out well, opposing the increase without corresponding tax cuts; I would have liked to see more, but it was a much more rational compromise than the Democrats' position. Now, though, you've stooped to worthless posturing motions which you know cannot pass, and simple political bickering. If you want to take a hard line against raising the limit, I could respect that, but playing this immature and transparent political games just makes you appear to not be taking this issue seriously, and not only weakens your current position, but your future political capital for a leadership role in tacking this problem. It's just moronic.

Allow me to suggest an alternative, if I may. Instead of handing the Democrats exactly what they want and turning an easy win into a crippling loss, why don't you pass a reasonable bill which cuts easy spending targets, and raises the debt ceiling by a commiserate (and hopefully smaller amount). I realize that's what Obama asked you not to do, but let me clue you in on something: he doesn't have your political best interests in mind when he gives advice, and clearly he's better at playing the political game than you are. Writing a bill which cut, say, $100 billion annually, and increased the debt ceiling by $100 billion, shouldn't be too hard, and although it would only let the country go another month or so at current spending levels, it would do a lot to reinforce the image that you are trying to do something, even if that something was far less that what Obama and his allies wanted. If the Senate or Obama were to veto such a package, you could then at least reasonably claim that you tried to compromise on something, and make sure the checks kept going out. Moreover, who knows: if you could pass one of those a month for a year or so, we could actually get the finances of the country under control, and eventually solve the real problem.

Now for the Democrats, and Obama in particular, since he has become the spokesperson for the party on this issue. Saying you want to do anything to avert the crisis while refusing to compromise on including tax hikes is asinine: the only reason you can get away with it is that the predominantly liberal media doesn't call you out on it repeatedly for the idiotic premise that it is. You're not going to be able to get tax hikes through the house right now, and hinging your "solutions" on them is just dumb. Moreover, as much as you'd love to get the ceiling high enough to spend like it's going out of style for the next two years like you have for the past two, that's probably not going to happen either.

However, at the risk of helping "the enemy", you're missing a political opportunity. You should be offering a standard "raise the limit" bill, with nothing attached, for the Senate to pass and the House to vote down. Then, don't do anything. When we hit the debt ceiling, have a plan in place to reduce spending arbitrarily through Treasury, probably starting with Social Security. Then, go on TV at every opportunity with carefully constructed, conciliatory speeches which make it clear that you are only doing what you must, and that you regret having to make the decisions at all, since it's Congress' job under the Constitution to allocate spending based on the amount of money Treasury is allowed to borrow, and if Congress was doing their job, you wouldn't have to be hurting people. In the meantime, prioritize spending however you like, since it's your prerogative. Your talking points will ring true with the American people, because unlike most of your normal talking points, these would actually be true and not misleading. Just try not to mess up the delivery, since it will be a new experience for most of you.

Sure, the debt ceiling is a big deal, and the US missing $100+ billion in payments per months could be a huge disruption. Like any other challenge, though, it's both an opportunity to do the right thing, and a chance to show people your "true colors", so to speak. So far, both sides are coming out looking like shit; which I suppose is appropriate, given the state of American politics. If we are going to address any of the large problems facing the country, we the people must find a way to get better people running the country.

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