As the nation careens towards the cliffs of insanity, I’ve yet to see a convincing explanation for why President Obama is helping the destructive elements of the Tea-GOP blackmail the government and force reductions in dozens of programs that represent the fundamental purposes of government.
I don’t have the slightest doubt Mr. Obama wants to preserve government functions, even if he’s willing to accept reduced levels of efficacy and benefits to Americans and unwilling to demand the most well off pay for them. And I’m certain he wants the debt level raised enough to avoid confronting that issue again before the 2012 elections. I assume he wants the solution to impose minimum damage to the economy, even if I fundamentally disagree with his economic analysis. Surely he believes his reelection strongly depends on whether voters believe the economy and jobs are on a credible path to recovery.
So we’re left to speculate how the White House thinks it can overcome the fact that the dominant party in Congress has chosen to hold the US economy hostage and risk a worse recession and/or a costly rise in interest rates and potentially catastrophic hit to US credit. What’s their logic? How does this end?
We got a hint of Mr. Obama’s thinking today when he again clearly endorsed two prevalent myths: the confidence fairy belief that up to $2 trillion in business investment and hiring are just waiting for a deficit deal even though there are not enough customers with enough money to buy their products, and the preposterous notion of Tea-GOP rationality and good faith.
What we can do is to solve this underlying debt and deficit problem for a long period of time, so that then we can get back to having a conversation about [jobs]. Since we now have solved this problem, that’s no longer what’s hampering economic growth. That’s not feeding businesses uncertainty. Everybody feels that the ground is stable under our feet. Are there some strategies that we could pursue that would really focus on some targeted job growth. . .
We can’t even have that conversation if people don’t feel as if we don’t have our fiscal house in order. So let’s act now, let’s get this problem off the table, and then with some firm footing, with a solid fiscal situation, we will then be in a position to make the kind of investments that I think are going to be necessary to win the future.
A growing chorus of reputable economists have explained repeatedly that the confidence fairy excuse is bogus, and Obama’s own experience has shown repeatedly that there is no basis for assuming Tea-GOP good faith or rationality. These zombies are driving off the cliff and happily so. So where do the President’s twin delusions leave us?
We already know the Tea-GOP is perfectly willing to force an entire government to shut down unless it agrees to slash itself to pieces. That is what Minnesota is telling us, and there are no signs yet the Tea-GOPs are sorry this has happened. Their position there is indistinguishable from their national position in Washington.
And what is their incentive to help Mr. Obama put the debt issue behind him? They claim slashing debt and getting government out of business’ way will solve unemployment! So they don’t want to get to the next conversation.
Aside from not wanting to solve Obama’s reelection problems, no debt limit deal, “grand” or otherwise, will satisfy their hatred of government functioning in the broader public interest. The only acceptable size of government is one that can be drowned in a bathtub. You could reduce the debt to zero, and they’d still want to strangle government. These people are not well, and it’s nuts to ignore this pathology.
This is not about deficits or debts. It’s about whether government is allowed to function for purposes the broader public accepts but the Tea-GOPs reject, and they’ll do anything, including shutting down the government, to prevent that.
If all their incentives are to force unacceptable spending cuts to cripple government, and they neither admit or care about consequences rational people worry about, there is no acceptable deal to be had. The only question is how the nation responds to economic terrorism and extortion.
Mr. Obama is acting as though he believes he can escape this dilemma if only he can split off Speaker Boehner and his allies from the terrorists, and the way to do that is to offer to slash enough government programs to appeal to Mr. Boehner’s ego and misguided goals. But that split is not possible as long as the terrorists have strapped explosives around Boehner’s chest that will destroy anyone close to him if he doesn’t do what he’s told.
Hostages can’t save themselves. They’re going to need an intervention, and it has to come from the media and the public threatening the Tea-GOP’s survival and demanding that government be allowed to function in the public interest. We are a long ways from there, and failing that, the country is heading off the cliffs of insanity.