Imagine that you are in the back seat of a car being driven 70 miles per hour towards a cliff edge. Driving the car off the cliff will be fatal, but instead of stopping the car, turning it around, or even stepping on the brakes, the two people in the front of the car are arguing about who is responsible for how close to the cliff it is. Then imagine that after one of the passengers in the back seat begins shouting at the driver to stop the car, the two in the front argue some more, then finally agree to slow down to 68 miles per hour.
Do you feel any safer? Do you feel any more confident about the ability of the driver and his navigator to keep the car from crashing? Of course not. The only rational conclusion is that you are trapped in a vehicle that is under the control of a pair of suicidally foolish idiots and that you are justified in doing anything, anything at all, to stop the car and get out of it.
Mainstream Republicans and the ever-credulous conservative media have been celebrating the budget deal struck between the Democratic Senate and White House and the Republican House of Representatives because it averted what appeared to be an imminent government shutdown. They are celebrating the deal despite the fact that the country would be much better off if the government not only shut down, but stayed shut down for an extended period of time.
The Republicans in Congress have the budgetary “nuclear” option at their disposal! Let them know you expect them to use it by sending a message to all 241 GOP House members via the “No More Red Ink” campaign
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. When the car is headed for a cliff, stop the car. Apparently these very simple concepts are beyond the ability of House Majority Leader John Boehner or National Review editor Rich Lowry to understand. Rep. Boehner claims that the deal “really will in fact help create a better environment for job creators in our country.”
It really will, in fact? How? A $38.5 billion reduction in federal spending means that Washington is adding an additional $1,461.5 billion to the federal debt in 2011 rather than $1,500 billion. It is extremely unlikely that the reduction will add so much as a single job, as the idea that such a proportionately small reduction will noticeably affect the economic environment defies every economic theory presently known to man.
But if the political Republicans are viewing the deal through a false economic lens, at least they are not making the mistake the media Republicans are in focusing solely on the political angle.
I saw the whole confrontation through the prism of two major downside risks: 1) a shutdown that could go awry politically and badly hurt Republicans three months into their House majority; 2) a poisonous split in the caucus that would make it impossible for House Republicans to fight cohesively on the big items to come.
– Rich Lowry, National Review Online, April 9, 2011
Lowry, like many others in the conservative media, is so hung up on who is driving the car that he completely fails to recall that it makes absolutely no difference who is at the wheel once the car plunges over the cliff. In fact, the budget deal makes it clear that it makes very, very little difference who is at the wheel considering that neither party has any intention of stopping the car.
I understand the pragmatic argument that it is impossible to effect political change by conceding political power to the opposition. However, that argument is trumped by the principled argument which states that political power is worthless if it is not utilized on behalf of solving the most important and pressing problems facing the nation. Since, as we have already seen in Greece, Ireland and Portugal, government debt is the most lethal and material threat to national sovereignty that exists today, there can be no compromise on the issue by Republicans, even if doing the right thing costs them the 2012 elections.
The budget deal was merely a skirmish leading up to the real battle, the battle for the debt ceiling. Unfortunately, the nature of the disastrous victory claimed by Republicans in last week’s skirmish would appear to indicate that they are not only going to lose the upcoming battle, but the eventual war to claim national independence as well.