The dysfunctional body that is the United States Federal Government demonstrated once again that it is incapable of governing.
With the country on the brink of economic disaster House Republicans postponed a vote on the Boehner Plan to raise the debt ceiling. In a direct challenge to the Speaker’s authority Tea Party members refused to give the Speaker the votes he needs to move the bill forward. The House will meet again today to try to whip the necessary votes. All of which is much ado about nothing as the bill is dead on arrival in the Democratic Senate.
People talk about what will happen if Congress does not strike a deal by the August 2nd deadline. The fact is the damage is already done. The trivial posturing and partisan politics rampant in Washington has infused an already weak economy with uncertainty that it cannot withstand.
The economic reports released this morning show that the GDP grew only 0.4% in the first quarter and 1.3% in the second quarter. The rating bureaus have already questioned the government’s ability to fix the problem. It is now being reported that given these horrendous GDP results and the governments dithering with the problem, the rating bureaus will downgrade the county’s AAA rating regardless of the details of a debt ceiling compromise.
People are not spending money. All of the opinion polls clearly show that Congress is taking the country down the wrong path. The CEO’s of several of the country’s major banks wrote a joint letter to Congress stating that this political grid lock is hurting business and investment. And yet the politicians continue to put ideology ahead of the good of the country.
How did things get so bad?
In our opinion we are here due to a lack of leadership. There is no one in Washington willing or able to make the politically unpopular decisions for the good of the country.
Let’s start with the Speaker. He has been trying to wrangle his Tea Party members for months. His problem is that the Tea Party members did not get to Washington because of John Boehner…they got there in spite of him. Boehner campaigned against the Tea Party in 2010. He saw them as a small group of radicals without substantive policy or backing. But they got elected, and now they hold the fate of the party in their hands. They owe Boehner nothing. Believing they had correctly gauged the mood of the country they overplayed their hand. Boehner had a sweet 3 to 1 spending versus revenue deal in his pocket. But the Tea Party, believing they could get more, rejected it. Boehner is powerless to stop them. And now his Speakership is in question.
The President has fared no better. He and his party controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress for two years… and failed to pass a budget. As the country continued its reckless spending practices the President caved to political pressure and extended the Bush tax cuts, ramped up the war in Afghanistan and refused to tackle the primary source of our debt; entitlement reform. As the debt ceiling debate began he was unable to prevent the Tea Party from attaching future spending cuts to an increase in the debt limit. He didn’t… or couldn’t… make the logical point that the debt ceiling was about paying for purchases already made. Even the most simple minded of us knows that when you use your credit card to charge a purchase you have to pay for it eventually. Apparently the President was unable to make that point to the Tea Party folks. He allowed them to hold the debt ceiling increase hostage. During the negotiations he played cute by half, refusing to offer his own specific plan and tossing out entitlement cuts that he knew would never be made. Now that the clock is approaching the eleventh hour he has remained silent. Even members of the Democratic caucus wonder why the President hasn’t weighed in on a daily basis.
We got in this mess due to a lack of leadership. It is now apparent that there is no one capable of leading us out.