Friday, June 24, 2011

Congress Is Playing a Destructive Game

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senator Jon Kyl, the only two members of the Republican Party participating in the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, have left the building.  Frustrated over the direction of the negotiations they have thrown a hissy fit, taken their ball and gone home.  Addressing reporters about his tantrum Cantor washed his hands and called on the President and House Speaker Boehner to weigh in.
History tells us that it is really hard to negotiate when there is no one to negotiate with.
The parties seem to have reached an impasse. 
The Republicans want to reduce entitlements while leaving the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place.  In other words they want to solve the debt problem by way of spending cuts alone; without any method of increasing revenue.
Democrats agree to spending cuts but say that any changes to Medicare are off the table.  They want to increase revenue by eliminating loop holes in the tax code.  This will leave the tax rates as is but will eliminate the path through which corporations and the wealthiest among us avoid paying their fair share.
And all of this drama over cutting a meager $4.4 trillion over the next ten years off a $14 trillion dollar debt.
These are not serious people.
The Republican exodus is merely a political ploy to bring the President to the bargaining table.  Republicans do not want Obama sitting on the side lines when the inevitably unpopular deal is reached.  They want his hands dirty.  And Cantor certainly would not mind some of the fallout coming to rest on the Speaker; whom he views as too soft in carrying the Republican message.
All of this makes for great theater for political junkies.  But the clock is ticking and the August 2 deadline is merely 5 weeks away.
Some pundits feel that, as usual, the parties will work out an eleventh hour deal.  After all Congress rarely acts until it is forced into a corner.  Other experts are not so certain.  Many feel that it will take another financial crash to push the two parties together.
This much is certain. 
Wealthy investors are holding $2 trillion dollars close to their chest as they await a solution.   An uncertain economy, an unknown tax code and a lack of demand leaves investors more poised to bail than invest.  And they won’t wait until the eleventh hour to get out. 
This lack of investment is strangling an already sluggish economy that can barely keep its head above water.  No investment means no new jobs.  The economy generated a pitiful 54,000 new jobs last month.  No jobs…no middle class.  What is left of the middle class is shrinking and being burdened with stagnant wages and shrinking benefits.  You cannot have a healthy economy without a strong middle class to buy the products.
Congress is broken.  They continue to play Russian roulette with the livelihoods of the American people.  While they play their political games people are losing their jobs, people are losing their homes and families are falling apart.
But Eric Cantor and Jon Kyl have taken their ball and gone home.     


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