Will the party of “no” soon become the party of “oh no!”?
The lives of millions of Americans will be dramatically impacted if the debt ceiling is not raised and critical government functions start shutting down. Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper has suggested that the first people to feel financial pain should be the congressmen/congresswomen and senators who created the problem, then refused to work together to fix it. If anyone’s checks must bounce, why not start with theirs?
But let’s be honest. It’s hard to solve a puzzle rationally when half the “solvers” have gone insane. In order to rectify the debt crisis, it’s obvious that we need to increase revenues and decrease spending, as judiciously as possible. But unless we’re going to create death panels or allow millions of elderly, incapacitated and poor people to starve to death and go without medical attention, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are much more than “entitlements.” They’re necessities. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be reformed. But Tea Party types have taken leave of reality, pretending there’s some magical dimension in which a “smaller government” can “end entitlements” without causing tremendous suffering for millions of people. The simple truth is that the “flab” they want to excise consists of human beings.
Most American conservatives claim to be Christians. But how can anyone possibly imagine Jesus Christ allowing millions of elderly and disadvantaged people to suffer, in order to preserve tax cuts for the rich? It is not the height of insanity to claim to be disciples of Christ, while doing exactly the opposite of what he, his apostles and Hebrew prophets clearly instructed when they said the affluent should help those in need? Since a tiny percentage of Americans controls so much of our nation’s wealth, why not eliminate their tax cuts, at least temporarily, until the economy recovers? Wouldn’t that be more Christian, and more sane, than causing even more suffering for the elderly, the sick and the needy?
Hypocrisy aside, the Republican Party is playing a very dangerous game. After President Obama’s speech about the current stalemate, House Speaker John Boehner made it clear that Republicans are unwilling to compromise, which would require accepting a balanced menu of revenue increases and spending cuts. Republicans have adopted a dangerous ideology in which taxes are the root of all evil, rather than the ground of the common good.
What do the majority of Americans want — more ideological grandstanding or responsible government? After the president called for ordinary Americans to contact their representatives and insist on compromise, government web servers started crashing due to the surge of incoming communications. People who have gone insane seldom think logically, so Republicans may not be able to read the handwriting on the wall. But I think the American public is “wising up” to the false religion and bad economics that have led to this tempest in a teapot.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.