On Monday, if no agreement has been reached between the two houses of Congress, the stock market will plunge precipitously, by several hundred points.
Our national "AAA" credit rating is likely to be downgraded, resulting in hundreds of dollars in extra interest charges to most middle class American families, every single month.
If that's not a 'tax,' I don't know what is.
But this seems not to faze the GOP in the least.
You can count on Fox News and Laura Ingraham and the rest to work overtime, spinning this whole thing as President Obama's fault. But here we are, trapped in yet another unecessary, months-long battle, crippling our government, ignoring the jobs problem--stuck arguing philosophy, with the 'Evil Landlords' of the GOP, who have come to collect the rent money, from a frightened nation held hostage.
Could it be any clearer, who the real villains are?
Radical Republicans have succeeded in creating a crisis where there simply was none--and all for...what? To prove that they're suddenly 'serious' about cutting government spending?
On Thursday, the New York Times published a chart, based strictly upon U.S. Treasury Department statistics, showing that of the supposed "14 trillion" in debt, President Obama's administration is actually only responsible for a mere $2.4 trillion of it.
Guess which eight-year regime is The All-Time Borrowing Champeen, ringing in at $6.4 trillion, from two ten-year wars (at least one of which was entirely unecessary), a couple trillion bucks in tax breaks for the wealthiest among us (and where are those jobs they were to have created, Dubya?), and the absolute rape of corporate regulations, leaving this country to be run, as Paul Begala puts it, "like a casino."
The Republican Party as we once knew it is no longer. It's been hijacked by hate-talk radio, Fox News, and the Karl Rove/Koch Brothers money machine.
The most recent trend being proffered by the right is that any yahoo can govern.
And why not? Hey, even if she walked off the job in the middle of her term as Governor, Sarah Palin looks good!
Yippee! (In fact, the main difference between this group of anarchists and the actual Yippees, is that the Yippees never seriously nominated Abbie Hoffman for elective office.)
The right-wing narrative is that "big gub'mint" gets in the way of commerce; regulating food, safety, and the environment are "job killing" propositions; and helping the poor is a foolish waste of the public's time and money.
As is science. As is education. Conservation. Anything "green." Etcetera.
In other words, cut it all to pieces.
Anything good is bad for you.
"We can't afford it!" they holler.
(But we can afford a couple trillion in gifts to the richest 1% of us, and we can afford to let corporations pay ZERO taxes...)
So here we are again, this time (even more ridiculously) arguing about whether or not to pay our past bills, by raising the debt ceiling, which Ronald Reagan did seventeen times, George W. Bush did seven times, and every President has done without any of this drama, whenever necessary.
"Raising the debt ceiling."
What does this mean?
Last week, the Daily Beast's, Christopher Hayes put it best:
He said it's as if we all went to dinner, Republicans and Democrats alike, and we each ordered everything we wanted, and ate it all--including dessert--and then, when the bill came due, the Republicans got up and left the table, refusing to pay until we all agree never to eat out again.
The point is, the 'debt ceiling' concerns our past bills; everything spent already.
It has nothing to do with the future.
The "crisis" that Fox News and the GOP love to pretend we're in exists solely because they've put us there.
Again: Raising the debt ceiling is a routine measure.
It's already been done twice, under Obama.
And again: It was done SEVEN TIMES, under George W. Bush!
While some (including Obama) voted against it at various times, never was the nation being held hostage by a radical opposition, like it is today.
And if we're so broke, why aren't those tax breaks for the wealthy even on the table?
The answer is that this crop of Tea Party Republicans couldn't care less about creating anarchy. They'd rather your country collapse than compromise at all, so they can re-shape it in the image of Rush Limbaugh.
This is the kind of breakdown that happens whenever societies decide to attack the best minds they have.
Anti-intellectualism has a long history of destroying great civilizations; from Greece to Germany, the trail of hatred and anarchy is long and bloody, when mobs decide to seize control and tear apart all that exists, willy-nilly.
I can tell you right now, I love my country. But I am not at all optimistic that we haven't planted the seeds of our own demise.
First, and perhaps most importantly, we ended the 'Fairness Doctrine' for broadcast outlets, a couple decades ago.
This created what we have today:
A funhouse mirror on talk radio, full of reckless clowns pumping out total distortion, and only one point of view, 24/7, to an unsuspecting public.
Lies substitute for truth; blatant falsehoods casually waft through the air until they reach your ear, disguised as fact.
It's a one-sided, non-stop, right-wing hate machine--spewing the most vile and preposterous nonsense imaginable.
It wouldn't surprise me if Sean Hannity or Michael Savage actually declared the world was flat. (Apologies to Tom Friedman.)
In their world, up is down; rich is poor; racists are victims of 'reverse racism'; and most importantly, wrong is right.
I'm going to make a rather shocking prediction, here.
If the programs that are being slashed right now continue to crush the poor, ignore the jobless, outsource our corporate profits (and jobs) overseas, fail to tax the rich at all in many cases, strip workers of their collective bargaining rights, demonize the government, and cripple the middle class much further, you can count on riots and bloodshed and looting in the streets--your streets--on a scale that will make Cairo once again seem like a vacation destination.
We are planting the seeds of an absolute class uprising.
And this is not 20 or 30 years away, either.
It's right around the corner. If the right wing is allowed to continue holding this nation hostage, cutting back all benefits to teachers, schools and police, in favor of keeping corporate and capital gains tax loopholes open for billionaires...there will be headlines so drastic and so life-changing in America, that you'll forget where you were on November 22, 1963, or possibly even 9/11.
Put more simply: You ain't seen nothin' in this lifetime, like you will see, if actual class warfare ensues.
A good investment might be wrought-iron bars, for your windows.
It will not be pretty.
And it will be everywhere.
The current debt ceiling 'controversy' is but another glimpse of the nightmarish vision of America that some very evil, very stupid people are attempting to foist upon the rest of us.
The other day, Glenn Beck actually suggested on his nationwide radio talk show that "six million checks are too many" for the government to be writing each month.
Imagine if some off-the-top-of-his-head numbskull ever gets to unilaterally decide that "six million monthly checks are too many." What happens then? No pavement, to fix the potholes? No school air-conditioning repairs? No police uniforms? No food inspectors? No garbage collection? No '911' staffing?
Since when does every jackass get to chime in about undoing what took us all 240 years to do?
Oh, I see. You don't like big government?
Guess what: It's a big country.
If you really like small governments, may I recommend Lichtenstein.
A whole lot of idiots have bought into this kind of talk show 'schtick'--and somehow, elements which would have been considered a radical fringe throughout our history are now given a seat at the national table.
What's the old saying?
"Opinions are like assholes; everybody's got one."
The trouble is, we've been letting these reckless cowards get taken seriously. Our 24/7 cable TV news monster desperately needs 'content,' so no matter how nutty your ideas, they'll air them. That, we know.
But we've somehow begun pretending that these fringe voices matter, just as much as the vast majority of credible ideas...and as a result, 87 of the most wild-eyed nutballs imaginable made it into Congress, last year. Michelle Bachmann? Rand Paul? Really???
None of them care much to actually govern. (Bachmann, for example, has missed more votes than she has actually cast this year.) Yet all of them seem hell-bent on shaking our government to its very foundation. It is a mandate for self-destruction.
Whoever coined the term "idiocracy" was right.
We've gotten down to where scientists are called "elites," NASA basically no longer exists, regular newspapers and networks are portrayed as radical ("mainstream/lamestream media"), and every whackjob out there gets to chime in with uninformed and reckless "ideas," about how to dismantle over 200 years of the greatest civilization in the history of this planet.
Many, many great minds converged--and yes, compromised, over many decades--to help form Social Security, Medicare, and so many of the other crowning achievments which have made America what it is today.
But somehow, we've come to a point where we're entertaining "ideas" from everyone in the classroom who raises their hand to say, "Hey, I've got a better idea!!!" Is there any wonder it all suddenly looks and feels like third grade?
Now, every jerk with a telephone or a keyboard gets to say, "Forget all that! Tear it down! Gub'mint's too big!"
"I've got an idea! We write too many checks! Let's just cut the amount of checks we write in half!"
Seriously. That's how bad it's gotten.
On Monday night at 11:59, President Obama should grow a pair and do the right thing.
Go ahead and raise the debt ceiling.
All on his own, with the stroke of a pen...and NO conditions.
Remember, this is only to pay our past bills--money which both parties long ago voted to spend, right or wrong.
And Mr. President, I frankly don't care whether you invoke the 14th Amendment (as Bill Clinton has suggested you do) or simply cite your 'executive authority' to act unilaterally, in a national emergency: Just do it.
|Mitch McConnell and Jiminy Glick:|
Separated at Birth?
It simply ain't gonna happen.
They will not unilaterally risk collapsing our economy--but John Boehner and his evil co-horts have proven that they will.
And after the President raises the debt ceiling on his own, (rightly) separating it from any future spending and taxation issues, we can go back to the current debate...that is, if the Republicans can stand to promote their tired ol' trickledown philosophy without holding a gun to our collective heads.
Talk about being "straight out of Central Casting!" John Boehner and Rush Limbaugh and Paul Ryan and Scott Walker couldn't look any more like the proverbial 'evil landlords,' in a silent melodrama. So let 'em stew awhile, and twirl their shiny black mustaches, and huff, and puff, and even threaten to blow the whole house down, just like they've been doing all along...but for God's sake, stop giving them any ammunition, with which to do it.
Cut 'em off at the pass, Mr. President. We need you to ride in at the last minute and save the day, Hollywood style! Raise this damn "debt ceiling" without 'em--and pay no attention to those evil, cowardly, small-minded men, hiding behind the curtain.
This article is Copyright 2011 by Peter Rodman. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to share it with your friends.