Those of you who have read my pieces in the past know that I was pushing for congressional Republicans to fight for deficit reduction on the continuing resolution. This didn’t happen.
Instead, explained the GOP, (1) it would be so much easier and risk-free to use the debt limit, and (2) besides, they were about to unveil a budget which would be widely applauded because (A) the press loves Paul Ryan and (B) no one could attack Medicare changes which left benefits intact for everyone over 55.
But, predicted I, if Republicans held up the debt limit, all sorts of sycophantic, sleazy, Obama-worshipping economists would crawl out of the woodwork in order to predict financial Armageddon.
And crawl they did, whining about the cataclysmic consequences of “default” on the U.S. debt.
Well, it turned out that predictions that the U.S. would “default” on making debt payments were -– to give the distinguished economists the benefit of the doubt and to put the best face on their motives –- a contemptible lie.
Without borrowing a cent, the U.S., with $172 billion of income in August, had nearly seven times the money it needed to service its debt ($29 billion). It also had enough to pay Social Security ($49 billion), Medicare and Medicaid ($50 billion), soldiers ($2.9 billion), veterans (also $2.9 billion), and much, much more. So we were not talking about a “default” in any traditional sense of the word, but, rather, a partial government shutdown (which had been done before).
Without admitting they were wrong, the sleazoids involved began oh-so-slightly changing the lexiconology to talk about “default on government’s obligations to the American people.”
So there is a new narrative: Unless Pell Grants continue to flow, international financial markets will collapse (WP, 7/16). The sources for this proposition are always anonymous and are always supposedly people who, in other contexts, liberals would regard as unworthy of trust.
Predictably, the fact that Congressmen Steve King and Michele Bachmann had forced Obama’s economists and in-house professional liars (MSNBC) to concede that they had engaged in criminal fraud did not stop them from calling King and Bachmann “balloon heads.”
But, with House Republicans rebelling against their leadership and finally showing a little backbone, now comes Mitch McConnell in an effort to troll for favorable MSNBC press. You would hope that the not-without-reason “minority” leader would be troubled by the fact that the Washington Post (and every liberal in town) suddenly thinks he’s a genius, not unlike a puppy learning to jump for a tasty treat.
The modified “good boy!” McConnell-Reid proposal would codify the $1.5 trillion in phony defense and out-year “cuts” okayed by Biden, allow Obama to unconstitutionally borrow $2.5 trillion by submitting a comparable amount in hypothetical phony cuts, and -– scariest of all –- create a commission of McConnell/Boehner clones to create an unamendable fast-tracked bill to destroy any aspect of the economy left standing after Phase 1.
What could go wrong with that?
We know, for instance, that one of the “cuts” would be achieved by hiring a lot more government employees to ferret out “waste, fraud, and abuse.”
But, says McConnell, at least the GOP won’t have to “own” the economic conflagration his proposal would create. The visage of a smiling McConnell standing beside Obama as he signs himself into history as “the great budget cutter” will simply go into McConnell’s scrapbook, and that will be that.
Really? Is that your “final answer”?
Because Standard & Poors, in addition to its “default”-related threats, is also saying it will downgrade U.S. obligations based on McConnell’s failure to reduce the debt by $4 trillion (WP, July 16, 2011). And -– this is just a hunch –- but I’m betting the CBS Nightly News is not going to suddenly take the stance that “it’s Obama’s fault.”
In fact, from ObamaCare to Lame Ducksmanship to the CR to the debt limit, you would think the GOP would have learned a simple lesson: Fleeing in horror does not stop Obama from chasing them.
But what about McConnell’s argument that Obama would finally be required to submit “cuts.” Huh? You think Obama, with virtually no parameters on his discretion, can’t come up with $2.5 trillion in phony, political risk-free cuts?
To the contrary, Obama will be able to take his phony cuts and spend the next year taunting the GOP for not enacting them.
But, argues McConnell, Democrats up for reelection, like Ben Nelson, McCaskill, Manchin, and Tester will have to spend the next year and a half voting for three veto overrides of debt limit increases.
Wrong again, Tonto. The Democrats only need one-third plus one in one House. That means that all of the endangered Democrats can vote “right” on the veto override and can go into the next election touting their fiscal responsibility.
Finally, as to the commission, modeled after the one that bamboozled Reagan, well -– enough said.
It hurts me to say this, but Newt Gingrich is right. Republicans need to be spending every hour of every day promising that they will save seniors from Obama’s gratuitous threat to cut their social security in order to make them political pawns to his liberal agenda.
It’s probably not a bad idea, in the same breath, to remind Americans of the reasons that Obama needs to borrow $2.5 trillion (ObamaCare, the government takeover of financial services, wasted stimulus bills totaling almost one trillion a crack, bailouts, regulatory gun control, etc.).
What is a bad idea is to grovel around in an effort to curry favor with media which is already owned by the White House. Because, whatever tomorrow’s headlines read, history will ultimately not look kindly on the guy who was outwitted by Barack Obama again and again and again.
by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.