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Can Republicans Reach a Debt Ceiling Deal?

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No.

I could have stopped there, having answered the title question in as thorough a manner as anyone could ask for, and claimed no less than a tie for the world's record for the shortest column ever; but I can't restrain myself from explaining that assertion further.

As a first principle, the debt ceiling increase could not have been chosen as a vehicle to carry piggybacked Republican demands in any sort of responsible way. They chose this opportunity to hold the nation's struggle to return to economic well being as a hostage to their ideological demands, knowing full well that their demands would be laughed off for the idiocy that they represent if put forward as a stand alone proposal or tied to anything that didn't threaten the Republic and the entire world. This issue should have been put before the Congress for a straight up or down vote and sent on to the President as a clean bill in the manner that it was when Republicans approved every such measure for George W. Bush as he and they RAISED THE NATIONAL DEBT BY MORE THAN SIX TRILLION DOLLARS!

Second, Republican intransigence in their refusal to consider any revenue raising measures has been encouraged by Presidential weakness in every prior such negotiation from the stimulus to the health care act to his collapse on the Bush tax cut extension. We really can't blame them for supposing that if they hold their breath until they turn even redder, they will get to see Barack Obama crumple into yet another tear sodden heap of weak resolve, with a hanky in one hand and all of their demands on a silver platter being proffered in the other.

But the real meat of the matter, the real wrench in the gearbox, the real turd in the punchbowl, is contained in the Republican abdication of their responsibility to govern that is represented by a "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that all but thirteen Republican members of Congress have signed.

The pledge reads:

<BlockQuote>I, (whatever irresponsible imbecile is considering the abandonment of their constituents), pledge to the taxpayers of the (the political district of the constituents to be abandoned) state of (the people of the state to be forsaken) and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.</BlockQute>

I should point out that the parenthesized text is my own, replacing the simple blanks that Americans for Tax Reform put in those places, believing as they do that this pledge represents some sort of precept of responsible governance, as true nitwits might be expected to do. As long as I'm making disclaimers, I must also offer that Republican members of Congress are not alone in their abdication of responsibility. Three Democrats have joined them, being Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY-6) and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-1).

This pledge is typically simple-minded right wing cant, stupidly supposing its own validity under any conditions. Those would be conditions like total tax receipts being the lowest percentage of GDP since 1950, or the highest U6 unemployment since the Great Depression (no income, no income taxes), or a gigantic Republican national debt for which the party of "personal responsibility" evidently thinks it is acceptable to default on.

Now, many Republicans may not have read nor fully understood the terms of the pledge that they were painting themselves into a corner with, and many others may not have thought through the implications of what they signed. We still cannot feel any sympathy for those with whom this is the case since such shoddy thinking must necessarily disqualify them from service to a well-governed Republic. The many others who did understand those terms, and signed the pledge anyway, are traitors, engaged, along with their corporate, and particularly transnational and foreign corporate supporters in the levying of economic warfare against the United States.

As I have mentioned before in other commentary, Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States provides that,

<BlockQuote>"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." </BlockQuote>

There are no exceptions noted for economic warfare, as opposed to force of arms, and we must note that the purposeful destruction of a nation's economy has always been an aim of warfare and recognized as an act of war.

A claim on ATR's website that explains quite a bit states that every Republican presidential nominee since 1988 has signed their pledge. According to Kerry Picket, in a July 1, 2011 interview of Grover Norquist for the Washington Times, Norquist claimed that,

<BlockQuote>"All the Republican candidates for president have either signed the pledge or told me they intend to, with the exception of Huntsman." </BlockQuote>

Anyone voting for a Republican candidate for president must realize that they are voting for someone who has ceded significant presidential responsibility to Grover Norquist before the first vote has been cast, making Obama's white flag look like a bloody shirt.

I'm not certain how this exercise will end, and I'm not eager to find out. An equitable deal cannot be reached under the terms of the pledge that nearly every Republican has signed. I expect that businesses and commercial establishments are suffering even more wrenching uncertainty, putting the lie to Republican claims that their program is to provide certainty to a muddled and roiled business environment.

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I am a lifelong resident of the Chicago suburbs, with a several year hiatus to serve in the Navy when my Vietnam era draft notice turned up. I had been told that guys with last names like mine were among the preferred cannon fodder in the Army, so (more...)
 

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Do the Republicans even want a budget? I think the... by John Peebles on Monday, Jul 11, 2011 at 11:12:58 PM
but I think that deposing Obama is only incidental... by John Sanchez Jr. on Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011 at 6:47:44 AM
surprised, by the talking heads' inability to reme... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Jul 12, 2011 at 8:39:12 PM