- Represents an abdication of congressional responsibility.
- Is the consummation of the Tea Party/GOP's plan to eviscerate the Federal Government -- to, in the words of Grover Norquist, "drown it in the bathtub."
- Is a declaration of war against the will of the American people, the majority of whom -- including registered Republicans -- think Sequestration is suicidal.
- Is a fabrication which claims that all of America's economic difficulties are due to deficits, and as such, spending cuts are the only solution.
- Shows what harm an infestation of amateur ideologues can do to an institution, a government, and an economy in less than two years.
- Says that living up to America's historic and moral obligations amounts to less than a farthing.
- Sets in motion the further strangulation of the American middle class.
Additional rhyming words which come to mind include abrogation, condemnation, depredation, exploitation, fumigation, irritation, laceration, mutilation, orchestration, revocation, suffocation, termination and violation -- all of which play a role in defining this new, mindless impasse -- an impasse we never would have reached if our politicians acted more like practiced professionals and less like the childish cowards they've proven themselves to be. The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi put it succinctly in his most recent piece: " . . . what we're watching is irresponsibility on an epic scale, wherein both of our major political parties seem to prefer government by random outcome over one managed by sensible compromise."
How in the world did we ever reach this sorry dead end?
When dozens of Tea Partiers got elected to Congress in 2010, they brought with them an apocalyptic vision of an eviscerated federal government; one that would be incapable of lending assistance to the sick, the elderly or the unemployed. In short, they saw a clock running backwards towards a time prior to FDR's New Deal. The first step in achieving their ultimate goal involved holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage . . . remember the Debt Ceiling Crisis of 2011? In order to avoid defaulting on the public debt, the White House and House Republicans agreed to harsh and arbitrary “sequestered” spending cuts if they couldn’t come up with a more reasonable deal in the interim. "But," in the words of Clinton-era Labor Secretary Robert Reich, "the Tea Partiers had no intention of agreeing to anything more reasonable. They knew the only way to dismember the federal government was through large spending cuts without tax increases." To be certain, this short-term strategy leads to increased unemployment and economic stagnation, without doing anything to lower the nation's deficit in the long-term. This can only lead to an American public that is angry, fearful and full of resentment.
And this is precisely what the Republican Party's most conservative ideologues are after: anger, fear and resentment against (they hope) the Democrats. Their hope is that the more angry, bitter and fearful the American public becomes, the more they will turn to . . . guess who? . . . The smaller-is-better conservatives of the Tea Party wing of the GOP. True to their playbook, Republicans blame every aspect of the nation's economic woes on a spendthrift president who gladly pays off the poor, the elderly and the unemployed in order to gladly drive up long-term debt while simultaneously receiving the continued support and adulation of the "entitlement crowd."
Although most polling shows that a majority of the American public don't buy into the Tea Party worldview, Tea Partiers like Eric Cantor (VA), Tim Huelskamp (Kan), Steve King (IA) and Rand Paul (KY) don't really care . . . nor do they have to. So long as they can keep their local base happy -- by holding fast to their pledge of "No taxes, no compromise, no engaging the enemy . . . ever!" they know they will likely run unopposed in their next primary and be reelected come November.
Most regrettably, President Obama's response to Sequestration involves neither evocation nor exhortation: it is, once again, searching for the illusive, idealistic "grand bargain" of “balanced” spending cuts (including cuts in the projected growth of Social Security and Medicare) combined with tax increases on the wealthy. As of today, the president has agreed to a gross imbalance -- $1.5 trillion in cuts to Republicans’ $600 billion in tax increases on the rich. Such an approach gives me feelings of indignation, irritation and perturbation. Try as he may, the president is never going to get the Tea Party crowd -- which controls one-half of one-third of the Federal Government -- to agree to a dime in new revenue. To them, compromise on anything spells both defeat at the polls and a one-way ticket to Hell. Better that the president get back to discussing jobs, jobs, jobs and convincing the public that with jobs comes increased purchasing power; with increased purchasing power comes economic growth; with economic growth comes increased revenue; with increased revenue comes a better position from which to seriously tackle our long-term economic challenges.
It seems to me that the medication of increased employment and economic growth beats the domination of the Tea Party seven days a week . . . and twice on Sunday.
©2013 Kurt F. Stone