Commentary: GOP Leadership Never Took Deficit Reduction Seriously
by Christopher G. Adamo
Now that the debt ceiling deal passed in Congress and was quickly signed by Barack Obama, key players from both major parties will no doubt want immediately to change the subject. In an inconvenient epilogue to all of the demagoguery from the left and empty promises from the right, even a cursory examination of the actual measure that was spawned will reveal it to be nothing more than “business as usual” from Washington.“Mainstream” Republicans are doing their best to characterize the debt-ceiling increase as a worthy “first step” down the long road to fiscal stability. Yet any investigation of its contents reveals that it is nothing of the kind. Consider that, as a result of this single federal action, in the next sixteen months America’s financial liability will be increased by an amount equivalent to the entire national debt accumulated from the year that the Constitution was ratified until 1986.
Nevertheless, the nation is being treated to hysterical caterwauling from liberals that as a result of Republican callousness towards the dependent class, “draconian cuts” are impending. With only a little scratching below the veneer of this bill, it quickly becomes apparent that those “cuts” are projected for several years down the road, when the Congress will be under no obligation to honor the symbolic and meager restraints placed upon it. Who would honestly contend that the current Congress ponders, for even a second, the ludicrous notion of abiding by caps imposed on it in a 2002 budget measure? In grim contrast, the fiscal feeding frenzy is inevitable and will of course commence immediately.
With the outcome of this controversy now settled as it is, the question needs to be asked, “Why did the GOP even bother to contest the debt hike in the first place? If Obama ultimately got the money he wanted, and the only “limits” on the ensuing spending binge are slated to occur well after he leaves office, why should America have been forced to endure the charade of Republican adversity to the current situation?
Upon signing the debt-ceiling increase into law, Obama chastised recalcitrant Republicans by asserting that America did not need “this manufactured crisis.” And in a profoundly sad sense, he was right. If the end result was always going to be that he got his way, the matter should have been handed quietly over to him by willing accomplices “on the right” weeks ago, with no pretense of fighting his long-term agenda of endless bureaucratic bloat. And in truth both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-KY) and House Speaker John Boehner (R.-OH) have over time revealed that they would rather have done it that way.
Of course they are both claiming credit for incorporating last minute modifications that ostensibly improved the measure, in order to garner the cooperation of conservatives in the House and Senate who otherwise would not have signed on. Yet the mere fact that the initial monstrosity was wholly unacceptable and had to be improved under duress, but nonetheless had their support in each circumstance, proves that their goal was to get it off their backs at the earliest possible opportunity.
The contorted posturing and compromising by both Boehner and McConnell cannot be construed as anything other than their best effort to thread the needle between giving the Democrats whatever they wanted (This, we are told, is just how they do things in Washington) and feigning enough resistance to convince those on the right that they had indeed attempted to achieve the best possible deal. Somewhere in the distant past, any real recognition of the dire financial straits facing the nation, and the need to take tangible action to avoid such a fate, was completely abandoned. America now continues careening towards fiscal catastrophe, and it can take little encouragement from the insipid assurances that, some time well past the middle of the decade, Congress will suddenly start making those tough choices that it refuses to make at present.
But instead of owning up to this fiasco that they allowed, Republicans are insulting the nation with the latest, desperate RINO talking points. In no way should America be consoled by the excuse that they “did the best they could” under the circumstances, since they “only control one third of the government.” As the majority party in the House of Representatives, they are constitutionally mandated to be in 100% control of the nation’s purse strings. This should be firewall enough to prevent the sort of meltdown suffered by fiscally irresponsible European socialist states, and which increasingly looks to be this nations’ future.
It is true that they have neither the Senate majority nor the White House. But sadly, rather than rising to the occasion and fulfilling their role as the “worthy opposition party,” Republicans under the current leadership have degenerated into the “compliance party.”
Not surprisingly, while the bond ratings services have for the moment maintained the United States in the “AAA” category, they concurrently intone that this status faces a real threat of being downgraded. In other words, the immediate “crisis” has been diverted, but since no concrete action is being implemented or even proposed to avert inevitable further accumulations of insurmountable debt, the long-term prospects for a stable financial assessment of the nation are bleak.
Aside from giving yet another “transfusion” of borrowed capital to keep Obama from owning up to his criminally irresponsible actions of the past two and a half years, no substantive effort was made to abate the hemorrhaging of America’s financial resources. Thus, the ultimate outcome of this scenario is not in question. Only the timetable remains to be determined.
In an attempt to appear principled and resolved, Mitch McConnell contended as recently as July 12 that “As long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable.” Yet in light of the realities of the debt limit increase subsequently supported by himself and Speaker Boehner, abetted by their insipid and purely symbolic plans to reduce spending… someday, it is obvious that no fix is possible as long as the current Republican “leadership” or their accommodating minions remain in the Congress. America’s next opportunity to implement a real solution will be in the upcoming Republican Congressional and Senate Primaries.