Debt Ceiling Notes

Notes on the debt ceiling crisis:

1) The Centrist Cop-Out by Paul Krugman. This is a must read column by perhaps the most insightful and relentless liberal commentator around. Krugman illustrates the fetish that media organizations have with trying to find a balance between two sides, even if one side is bat shit crazy. The result leads to a skewed perception by the general public of both the issues at hand and of the responsibility of dysfunctional government. This centrism craze has led to Obama being further and further right of where he campaigned and what liberals desire. That leads to a rift between liberal factions of die hard Obama supporters and those critical of Obama’s rightward drift. A win for conservatives who continue to drag this country off a cliff.
** In addition, here’s a good article comparing Obama to Nixon.

2) Disasters Happen by Matt Yglesias. Yglesias points to an analogy between the current debt ceiling crisis and World War I. The main point being that just because something would be to everybody’s disadvantage does NOT mean it won’t happen. I wholeheartedly agree with Yglesias here and it’s the primary reason that I fear a crisis may occur. Neither side is willing to blink and disaster, like 4 years of trench war, may be inevitable. The follow up to the original post is even more insightful, comparing the GOP to Germany and desiring war “now” rather than at a future date when they are weaker. Yglesias points to the impending demographic changes that will occur and weaken conservative politics, arguing that now might be their best chance to fight for their political life. Both are must reads.

3) Shay’s Rebellion. Another historical comparison with regards to the debt ceiling. This piece on CNN gives the background of the rebellion and how it is similar in some respects to today’s crisis. The main point to take away from this article is that a strong, manipulative, “dirty fighter,” is often needed to lead. The continual compromises and concessions tend to historically lead to a passing of the buck where the real issue is never settled. With Obama currently conceding everything but the kitchen sink to an uncooperative Republican Party, it may be time to approach it differently. Obama may looking at squashing his opponent through whatever means rather than brokering with fools.

4) Worst. Congress. Ever. Norman Ornstein of the AEI, a staunchly conservative think tank, writes a scathing piece in ForeignPolicy.com on the current congress, accusing the Republicans as simply refusing to govern. Personally, I fail to remember an issue or time when so many Republican pundits and, more importantly, former Republican officeholders have called out congress as much, whether it be over the debt ceiling or foreign policy. Which leads to the next note….

5) Bob Gates: GOP Mixed Message. DemocracyArsenal.com has a piece on Bob Gates and his frustration with the GOP mixed message on Foreign Policy and government spending. Gates is quoted as saying:

“Congress is all over the place,” Gates says at one point. “And the Republicans are a perfect example. I mean, you’ve got the budget hawks and then you’ve got the defense hawks within the same party. And so I think there is no consensus on a role in the world.”

Gates seems very exasperated in the quote and with the direction of the country in general. He’s got a great point, though I disagree with his emphasis on defense, and that is that we as a nation want certain things and have been willing to pay for it, whether it be national defense, education, or simply roads. The problem with the current GOP is having no roads, no education, and no defense is a preferable (insane) option, in fact much more preferable than paying taxes.  The elite conservatives, the long time public servants, and the business class conservatives have a real disconnect from the grass root Tea Party faction. Until the old guard shouts out and takes action, the fringe will continue to lead America into decline.