The Debt Deal: Republicans

By YeOldeScribe ~ August 22nd, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

Today PoliticalProgressives begins its week-long series examining the debt crisis and the eventual deal that was struck. We’re going to take a look at it five different ways: first from the Republicans, then from the Democrats, Wednesday we’ll look at how Obama fared, Thursday we’ll do the same for America, and Friday we’ll cover Ron Johnson’s decision not to support the deal. Now that we’ve covered what’s on tap, let’s take a look at today’s order of business.

Before the Crisis

Republicans like to believe that America was rollin’ in dough like Scrooge McDuck before Obama was elected president, but the reality is quite different. Defense spending shot way up during the Bush administration, as did spending for tax breaks to people that make over $250,000. Bush also increased a lot of other discretionary funding and passed a lot of other measures that required monies, but “defense spending” (because starting a preemptive war is part of defense, you know) and funding tax cuts were the two biggest.

Republicans have had multiple chances to give up some spending on both these issues, and they have refused to do so at every opportunity. They’ve vehemently opposed drastic withdrawals of US forces in Iraq, arguing that since we caused the problem, we should fix it. This is a great point, except there is little evidence saying that by staying in the region, we’re doing more good than harm. And Obama wanted to deal with the tax breaks phase out in the lame duck session of 2010, but Republicans refused to budge on that, too. We’ll go into more details on that one when we discuss Obama’s role in our debt crisis, as we feel he should have pushed harder on the issue when he had the upper hand, but we digress.

The bottom line is that the Republicans were not great stewards with America’s money, although they’d like you to believe none of this was their fault. We’re not saying all of it is, but they’re not as clean and innocent as they’d like you to believe.

Building up to the crisis

One important thing to note is that we firmly believe that our nation’s debt problem evolved into a crisis almost entirely because of the Tea Party, and we can prove it. We’re not saying that the Tea Party was responsible for the debt problem (the 14 or so trillion dollars that we owe to ourselves/other nations) – but we are saying that the Tea Party turned that ‘problem’ into a ‘crisis’. Remember right before the Tea Baggers took office, during the supposed ‘lame duck’ period when nothing’s supposed to get done? President Obama and Congress were able to get more work done during that three week period than they had done in the last three months. And how was that accomplished? Compromise. Republicans got to keep something they wanted (the Bush tax cuts) and Democrats got some things they wanted (DADT repeal and START ratification). The situation worked because of compromise. Then the Tea Baggers showed up. They immediately took the position of “My Way or the Highway to Hell” and refused to compromise on even some of the most basic things.  Believing that theirs was the right cause – the only right cause, as if theirs was anointed by God himself – they set off on a crusade to muck up everything in sight. (Or does that word start with an f?)

Their mission was more than accomplished. The Tea Baggers created a gridlock in Washington that hasn’t been seen since the days of Newt Gingrich. (Aren’t you glad he’s running for office again?) Let’s review our summer quickly: The Tea Baggers start a war between Republicans and Democrats over what the federal budget should look like, then they disagree with both sides. In discussing the budgets for 2012, the Tea Baggers manage to drive our government to the brink of a shutdown, avoided at the last minute when Republican leadership finally gets some sense knocked into them, ignores the Tea Baggers and accepts Obama’s more than generous offer. Then, they engineer even more gridlock, again pitting Republicans and Democrats against each other in a debt battle so stupid that S&P spanked us over the ass with an economic downgrade.

Now, are we saying this is 100% their fault. No, that’s not true. But do we have back-to-back crises if the Tea Party doesn’t exist? We sure don’t. Rationality and compromise would have broken out. But the Tea Baggers are so focused on destroying the heathen Obama (nevermind that he’s Christian) and the rest of his devil-worshiping Democrats  that they are willing to drag America down to oblivion if it means getting rid of him.
Crisis Time

As we stated earlier, once it was evident that there was a crisis approaching, the Republicans essentially split into two factions: the Tea Baggers and those with brain cells remaining. Sadly, this was a case of the tail wagging the dog, as John Boehner felt he had to give the squeaky wheel its grease and appease the Tea Baggers on every front. We’ll commend the Republicans who, near the end of the process, realized that a compromise needed to be made no matter what the cost. But that realization definitely came too little, too late – and those Republicans were never able to get the attention of party leadership like the Tea Baggers did. This, perhaps, is the biggest sign of worry to come: the Tea Baggers don’t have as many members as you’d think, and there are more rational members of the Republican party than there are Tea Baggers. Yet it seems like the Tea Baggers have control over the party (and looking at tapes of Boehner, he doesn’t really like it, either).

What it all means

The continued existence of the Tea Party will mean another year of hell in politics, leading up to one of the ugliest political races in our nation’s history. Even assuming that some rationality breaks out and the Republicans select Romney, the campaign will be full of more mud-slinging, unfounded claims and wild promises in order to woo voters to one side or the other. But that’s looking ahead to future misery: we’ve got plenty of suffering to get through before we even begin to think about elections. Remember how contentious this year’s budget battle was? We have to pass one of those every year. Meaning that ideally right now but more than likely at the beginning of next year, the Ryan and Obama plans will duke it out.

And if the Tea Party has anything to say about this, it won’t be pretty.

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