Recent memories of Cape Cod breezes, warm sunshine and gentle waves can’t dispel the acid taste left in the mouth by Congress’ despicable( and self-inflicted) game of chicken around raising the debt ceiling, followed by the eighth largest drop in stock market history. Small wonder that public disapproval of Congress is at 82 percent, according to a NY Times/CBS poll. That’s the highest disapproval since the Times started doing the poll in 1977. And Obama’s numbers are also down dramatically. (Can anyone explain to me why the President didn’t tie the debt ceiling rise to last year’s extension of the Bush tax cuts and thereby take it off the table?)
Nationally just 20 percent approve of the Tea Party, but they still exert disproportionate influence by threatening to run candidates in the Republican primaries against otherwise moderate Republicans who, without the fear from their Right, might act with reason.
So where are we? Where are our true leaders, those who are willing to put the country over ideology or personal self-interest. Notwithstanding the votes of many in the Massachusetts delegation against the debt ceiling deal (because of the threat to social safety net programs), I still feel those who were willing to hold their noses and compromise (on both sides of the aisle) did the right thing.
As reported by Yvonne Abraham, unflaggingly liberal Congressman Michael Capuano says he would have been willing to be the vote that killed the deal. He is quoted as saying he believes that the President would have gone the 14th Amendment route, acting to pay our debts even though the cost exceeded our debt limit and standing up to a possible impeachment vote in the House. Substituting a Constitutional crisis for a fiscal crisis was a Hobson’s choice.
Was Vice President Joe Biden speaking for himself or Obama when he told Capuano and Congressman Jim McGovern that, if necessary, the President, notwithstanding his public statements to the contrary, would use the 14th Amendment. The real question is how MA Congressmen would have voted if their votes had really been needed to avoid default. Would they really have voted with Michelle Bachmann and the others who were oblivious to the national security consequences?
It’s time to understand the lose-lose-lose debt ceiling circus has quickly become history. Only our disgust endures. That, and the challenges facing us now. Who will be the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, and can they really pull off a reasonable combination of cuts and new revenues, without making more immediate cuts that will make matters worse?
Once again President Obama now says it’s time to “pivot” to jobs. But where have he and Congress been on this issue during the self-created debt ceiling distraction, while the recovery stalls and the country slips toward a double dip recession?
There has been marginal improvement in private sector jobs this year, but the unemployment rate has held high because of the dramatic increase in public sector layoffs. Those out of work or fearful of losing their livelihoods are unlikely to be the type of consumers necessary to drive a sustainable recovery. If Obama and the Democrats were unable to make revenues part of a winning argument in the recent political chess game, they are unlikely to push for even a bipartisan big-ticket investment like an infrastructure bank to rebuild faulty bridges, highways and energy grids. Trade deals and extension of the payroll tax cut can only go so far. Maybe we need another super committee to do what Congress can’t do on its own.
My husband and I had to cut our brief vacation even shorter because of client needs. Maybe the President and Congress should cut short their summer recess and fundraising and carry “their urgency from the final days of the debt ceiling debate into an immediate crisis conversation about jobs.”
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.