Speaker of the House John Boehner has once again threatened to hold he debt limit hostage, this time over taxes for the rich; he will not accept any deal that raise taxes on that group. This is beyond outrageous. Actually, the first time they held up a raise in the debt limit it was beyond outrageous. This time it is beyond any pejorative. To raise the threat of a consequence that would mean the economy would get much worse at best, a disaster at worst, to score political points with rich donors as well as the party base is unspeakably irresponsible, in fact just plain unspeakable.
This childish political gamesmanship has been going on for four years. It started the minute the 2008 election ended. The Republicans’ rhetoric changed from focusing on a variety of issues to almost nothing but fiscal issues, namely the deficit and the debt. Then Boehner and congressional leaders hatched a plot to take the congressional from day one of the first session of President Obama’s term of office. The endeavored to set themselves up to win the 2010 elections while the Democrats, who are by no means perfect, tried to make deals. The opposed ANYTHING Obama proposed, including things they had previously supported, such as cap-and-trade(which was originally a Republican idea).
Now, to top it all off, they are trying to ice this years elections by preventing an economic recovery. Not only are they threatening to hold up a deal on the debt ceiling, but Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has put a hold on nominees to the Federal Reserve Board. The result is that they do not have the quorum needed to take any actions. FED chairman Ben Bernanke, a BUSH appointee, reportedly would like to stimulate the economy. Vitter stated that his reason to hold up the appointments was to thwart what he called activism of the FED, which likely means anything that would help the economy before the election. Note that one of the nominees is somewhat conservative and, as I said, the board’s chairman is a BUSH appointee. This is hardly a prescription for partisan mischief.
The leadership of the Republican party has been playing “divide-and-conquer”(Scott Walker even admitted it) or wedge politics for over thirty years. It has gotten much worse the last ten years because they are getting desperate due to social and demographic trends going against them, and yet worse the last four years because President Obama scares them, his presidency might be a game changer if they do not take him down. This must not happen. The time has come for the Republican shenanigans to end. Nothing useful can get done until that party’s leadership is forced to deal fairly.