Maybe later

| It seems as if the voice of reason may have a chance to be heard in Washington. Yesterday, American business leaders sent a letter to President Obama and all members of Congress saying, essentially, "Get it done!"

[W]e believe now is the time for our political leaders to act.

First, it is critical that the US government not default in any way on its fiscal obligations....

Second, our political leaders must agree to a plan to substantially reduce our long-term budget deficits with a goal of at least stabilizing our nation's debt as a percentage of GDP - which will entail difficult choices....

Now is the time for our political leaders to put aside partisan differences and act in the nation's best interests. We believe that our nation's economic future is reliant upon their actions and urge them to reach an agreement. It is time to pull together rather than pull apart.

The one-page letter was then followed by 18 pages of signatures, a virtual who's who of American business and financial interests. Mitch McConnell then floated his "last-choice option." It is, of course, a transparent move to shift all responsibility — and blame — to Obama.

Politicians, always looking for an opportunity to avoid doing what they were elected to do, offered reactions ranging from mild interest to rage. Last night on MSNBC Lawrence O'Donnell proclaimed victory for Obama, calling it "the most masterful rope-a-dope ever performed by a president against an opposition party" (MSNBC). That, I think, is like George W's proclamation of "Mission Accomplished" — premature.

McConnell's proposal is certainly convoluted and has big enough loopholes to drive an 18-wheeler through. Article I, Section 8 clearly assigns responsibility for debts to Congress. Furthermore, McConnell's proposal entails legerdemain around disapproving and vetoing of resolutions (see right). I could easily be mistaken, but I don't think a "resolution" is something that can be vetoed. As they say in Texas, "that dog won't hunt."

A few days ago the Republicans were ready to have the US default, so at the very least McConnell's gambit indicates that they have given up on that threat: "we’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and to the American people that default is an option" (WashingtonPost, 13-Jul-2011).

Dan Wasserman

I certainly have no crystal ball on how this is all going to turn out; I'm just glad I don't have to make any actual decisions in the matter! But the wild card is still the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republicans, controlled by the Tea Party jihadists. Speaker Boehner, in calling off negotiation on a grand bargain last weekend, admitted that he couldn't manage his own party. And the Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, is still stuck on "no." Cantor is extremely ambitious (“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, He thinks too much; such men are dangerous”), and he probably sees this as his opportunity to go for the gold. The quotation accompanying Cantor's picture in the yearbook was “I want what I want when I want it” (Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 13-Jul-2011).

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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