Right Wing and Debt Ceiling Extortion

With the debt ceiling crisis coming to a head, it should come as no surprise that Republicans have gone on the defensive. Unlike natural disasters, this crisis is self-imposed. To varying degrees, both the Democrats and Republicans have contributed to our national deficit. But only one of these two parties have thrust our deficit to such record breaking levels, that party is controlling the dialogue, and is creating this crisis to pursue their own agenda.

To get to the crux of this issue, we first must deconstruct popular Republican and Tea Partier’s myths.

The past mid-term election elicited a “record breaking” number of Republican seats in the House of Representatives and in Governorships. This win was touted as a “mandate from the American people.” But to establish this so-called “mandate”, we must look at what these candidates campaigned on. If the Republicans were issued a mandate, it was for job creation. That is what the Republicans campaigned on, not “fiscal responsibility”, “smaller government”, “lower taxes”, “destroying unions”, or even bringing our economy to the brink of collapse to force a dialogue of their choice. But even so, the Republicans won the majority in the House of Representatives and Governorships among the states. This is hardly an empowering win for their party. But keep in mind their win in governorships, as this will come into play later in this article.

It has been claimed that both sides contributed to the deficit, but it is eluded and assumed that both sides have contributed equally. Though records go back to the Roosevelt/Truman administration, and the following will still hold true, let’s focus only on the past thirty years. Ronald Reagan increased the deficit by $1.85 trillion, George H. W. Bush increased the deficit by $1.48 trillion, Bill Clinton increased the deficit by $1.42 trillion, George W. Bush increased the deficit by $6.13 trillion, and Obama has increased the deficit by $1.65 trillion by 2010. Or in other words, Republicans have raised the debt by $9.46 trillion and Democrats have raised the debt by $3.07 trillion. Though we must be honest enough to acknowledge that both parties have contributed to our debt, there simply is no equivalency between the how much each party raised the debt. The Republican Party has raised our national debt by a ratio of 3:1.

The Tea Party makes the claim that they were established “to counter the runaway spending of our national government.” But the first Tea Party Protest Rally is recorded on February 10, 2009 in Fort Meyers, Florida. It must be noted that the Tea Party did not protest TARP back in October of 2008 or the Auto Bailout in December of 2008. Their protests began after President Obama entered the White House, not before. And if it is true that the Tea Party’s complaint was about “runaway spending”, how does Tea Party members calling Obama an illegitimate president and demanding to see his birth certificate relate to governmental spending? And if these protests were truly about the deficit, why do they refuse to acknowledge the burden of debt laid upon us by the previous administration?

 

Both the Republicans and Tea Partiers falsely equate lower taxes to job growth. Their argument over permanently extending the Bush-Era Tax Cuts was only through certainty would businesses increase hiring rates. Yet these tax cuts have been in effect for over ten years now. By their logic, the lower tax rates should have produced a record breaking amount of jobs. But there is a clear lack of evidence to support this theory. Or perhaps it’s not the tax cuts which promote job growth, but rather the certainty factor. If this is true, then why are they insisting on uncertainty over raising the debt ceiling, wanting to rehash this again and again during our time of economic recession?

Back to the debt ceiling crisis.

The debt ceiling is a procedural vote to raise the official “Debt Ceiling” to match the level of debt incurred through previously passed legislation. Or in other words, this vote merely allows the U.S. to raise its debt ceiling to match the costs already accrued. The raising of the debt ceiling is not a “blank check” for new spending.

The Republican argument is that “we don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem”. But we do have a revenue problem! During times of recession, tax revenues decrease as unemployment increases. This is a statistical fact. Our previous administration’s Tax Cuts were unevenly distributed, highly favoring tax cuts for the wealthy, twice! Again, this is a statistical fact. Both of these factors effect tax revenues, and yet the Republicans claim, “We’re broke!” and “we have a spending problem.” Yes, we have a spending problem in that we are spending more than we are taking in. But it is dishonest to suggest that tax cuts or the recession does not contribute to the “spending problems”. If we truly wish to balance our budget, then we must address the affordability of tax cuts. And if we are serious about reducing the national deficit, then there is no other course of action to take except to raise taxes to an amount more than our spending.

If the Republicans and Tea Partier’s ran on a platform of jobs, then where are all the jobs bills? The Republicans blocked bills that would tax companies who ships jobs overseas, The Small Jobs Act, and have produced no jobs creation bills. Much like the Republican beliefs as to why we waged war against Iraq, the evidence does not support their argument. Instead of being honest, they have altered the discussion to direct our attention away from their failed arguments. They altered their claim to say Republicans and Tea Partiers ran on a platform against runaway spending.

Their deceit is not on the American populace so much as it is on themselves. These people actually believe their own lies over their so-called mandate. This is where they are sensing their self-righteousness in threatening our economy. They have convinced themselves they are right despite any evidence pointing to the contrary. This is how they justify to themselves that raising the debt ceiling is a “blank check” for new spending, that lower taxes will create job growth, and that we do not have a revenue problem.

These self-righteous officials are demanding drastic spending cuts before they agree to pay the bills they already legislated on. In order to affect their policies, Republicans are trying to subvert the U.S. Constitution, which they claim to hold to so valiantly, by bypassing the President and the elected Democratic officials. Senator Boehner’s newly rewritten plan demands Congress approves a balance budget amendment and to send it to the states for ratification. Remember how the Republicans won governorships in the mid-term elections? Well, this is where the Republicans plan to flex their muscle. They are attempting to wage state votes to force federal policy.

Both the Republicans and the Tea Partier are holding our economy hostage until we meet their demands. This is no different than how they held the Unemployment Extension Bill hostage for the Bush-Era Tax Cuts. This is not Democracy in action; this is extortion!

And this is what the Republican and Tea Party leadership has brought us, extremist ideologues who think nothing at using terrorist tactics to force their agenda. Their refusal to compromise is as incensed as the Taliban. They resort to anything to force their will upon the rest of us despite only representing a minority of the populace.

Our Democracy will have two tragedies fall upon it. First, the will of the people being subverted in order to affect the demands of a minority in our elected government. Second, we leave a four year Democratic presidential term without attempting any Democratic ideas.