A balanced but alarming Time Magazine editorial led off saying today,
As the U.S. hurtles toward a potential debt-limit default that would shake the fragile economy, the chasm between the two parties widened on Tuesday, as Republican opposition to tax increases calcified and Democrats bristled at the inclusion of cuts to entitlement-program beneficiaries without “shared sacrifice” from the wealthy.
Senate minority Leader McConnell proposed an alternative approach whereby the authority to raise the debt ceiling would be transferred from the House (Republicans) to the President (Democrat party). By doing that, though, he and his colleagues would also transfer the responsibility and the blame. Republican leaders would continue their shrill screams about overspending, pointing to Obama as the culprit. McConnell’s strategy is clear: Politics trumps the best interests of the nation. Shame on him. The Time editors said this about McConnell’s proposal:
Though designed to lift the burden on Republicans leery of backing a debt-limit increase, it’s unclear the idea would find any traction in the House, where Republicans have eschewed a piecemeal approach. Even if it did, Obama has said he won’t sign it. It’s a gambit to assign blame to Obama, whom Republicans believe would endure the brunt of the blowback if a congressional impasse produces a fiscal calamity.
An increasingly powerful player in this fight is House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.
About him, Time said,
But while Cantor is asking Democrats to concede cuts to their most prized programs, Republicans aren’t putting any of their own sacred cows on the table. Cantor argues that increasing the debt ceiling would itself amount to a compromise. “For Mr. Cantor to say that it was a major concession by the Republicans to sit down at the table to discuss getting to an agreement is an extraordinary comment to be made in a democracy,” (Democrat) Hoyer argued.
But then, there is deep intransigence on the Democrat side as well:
We must protect Medicare and Social Security. We will not support cuts,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday, flanked by 15 women in the Democratic caucus at a press conference that highlighted the disproportionate impact cuts would exert on women and minorities. Preserving programs like Medicare and Social Security is “the core of what we are all about,” said Democrat Kathy Hochul, who sprung an upset in a recent special election in a conservative Buffalo-area district by bludgeoning her Republican opponent for backing cuts to Medicare.
I continue to believe, as I have consistently maintained, that the key to the debt crisis and to the nation’s future health, the one issue that dwarfs all others, is entitlement reform. If they continue to dodge the issue the GOP is throwing the country under the bus, wasting the only (except for another Pearl Harbor or an alien invasion) motivation that can sway the public and enable entitlement reform – a threatened national default on its Treasury obligations. Also abandoned in the breech would be any opportunity to overhaul the Frankenstein tax code.
It’s clear to me that there has been only one adult in the Capital basement meeting room so far. How sad.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it
That in the process he does not become a monster.
If you gaze for long into an abyss,
the abyss gazes also into you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche – “Beyond Good and Evil”