I’ve been trying to find words to express my frustration with Congress, but they don’t come easily. I’m not even wasting otherwise useful swear words on them. It’s mostly a series of grunts and roars that don’t make any sense at all, sort of like Congress itself.
I can understand that the conservative Republicans want to have a comprehensive balanced budget and a balanced budget amendment as part of the package before they agree to raise the debt ceiling. But there is one small tidbit that they are overlooking, something I call the “Term Paper All-nighter Effect” – anything that is whipped together in marathon negotiations behind closed doors is going to be lousy and will almost certainly need to be revisited later no matter what.
It’s already too late for a comprehensive deal that puts everything on the path to balance. Whatever comes out of the process they have now will be garbage.
The same goes for the proposed balanced budget amendment. Will this apply when we declare war, assuming we ever do that again? Will we just move a lot of stuff “off budget”, like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, making such an amendment useless? What about the $700B TARP of 2008, which saved our financial system and was ultimately paid back – how would you do something like that under a balanced budget amendment? There are tough things to consider when you talk about a balanced budget amendment and no time to give them proper thought.
Talking about a balanced budget amendment now is like watching your house burn and saying, “You know, we should install a sprinkler system”.
It might be possible to take some pleasure in watching Speaker Boehner twist in the wind as his caucus falls apart around him. Under normal circumstances I might enjoy this. But the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling are very severe and could include the collapse of life as we know it.
Sounds ridiculous? “Life as we know it” for most people includes things like using a credit card to buy ice cream and a wide array of gizmos and gadgets built in other nations for sale cheap. A default, or even the serious risk of a default, puts the US Dollar at terrible risk and makes it very likely that interest rates will rise dramatically overnight. If that’s all that happens, we’re looking at best case – the worst that could happen is a more general collapase of our weak financial system, meaning that Congress could achieve what al Qaeda could not a decade ago.
If the Republicans want to be sure that their 2010 electoral victories are completely erased in 2012, this is the way to do it. And still there’d be nothing to cheer about.
Lest you think that everyone in Congress is an irresponsible idiot, I do want to point everyone to this CNN interview with Sen Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. I’m sure there are many Republicans who feel about the same way, too, but we don’t usually hear from them. The ones who make the nooze are the whining little children who insist on having everything their way on every vote.
If Boehner wants to get something done, and I think he does, he may well have to turn to his Democrat colleagues for support. If that’s what it takes at least we’ll get something interesting out of this mess.
Meanwhile, all I can do is grunt and gasp. Aaaaaah! Just when I can’t imagine a more dysfunctional and stupid Congress, they surprise me with a new low. There simply aren’t words to describe how ridiculous this has become.