The Debt Ceiling and the Tea Party

"get-a-brain-morans"
"get-a-brain-morans" by bpbailey on flickr

Several years ago when the Tea Party groups started forming, even though I am a Democrat I was pleased to see all these people getting involved in the political process.  The more people who speak up, regardless of the side of the aisle they are on, the better it is for the country.  As the voices grew louder, the politicians in Washington and in the State Houses started to listen.

No one can deny the impact the Tea Party groups have had in national politics in the past few years.  In the past election, several Representatives who say they are part of the Tea Party are now in the halls of Congress helping to make our laws.  The “voice of the people” is being heard.

The problem is that the voice is so loud it has brought Congress to a halt.

These new Congressmen have far too much influence and far too little knowledge of how governing works to be in making laws.  They let their rhetoric dictate their position and end up standing in the way of how things are supposed to work in Washington.  Over the past several years the increase in this rhetoric from both sides had already made things difficult for anyone in Washington to accomplish anything.  Now with the cacophony added by the Tea Party,  it has brought Congress to a complete standstill.

The 112th Congress, at its current pace, will set a record for being the least productive Congress in history.  This is at a time when real work needs to get done in order to move the nation through its worse financial and employment crisis in history.  I commend the Tea Party for getting it’s voice in the Congress, but they need to learn how to govern and not let their ideology stop any attempt at solving this nations problems.

Several members of the Tea Party, from major voices in their groups to the Congressmen in Washington, have gone on record saying that there should be no increase in the debt limit…ever.  They have also said that the only way to solve our fiscal crisis is to cut our way out.  Both of these positions will do nothing but either send the country into a depression or completely destroy the financial sector by causing interest rates to skyrocket and default on our obligations.

The credit standing of the country has never been used as an ideological pawn in politics at this level before.   In fact, at most it has been a back room discussion that has in the end been resolved quickly and without issue.  Yet the Republicans and the Tea Party in particular have used this moment to couple the debt ceiling with calls for major cuts in spending, even to the point of calling for an amendment to the Constitution forcing Congress to balance the budget.  I agree that our debt crisis is dragging our country down, slowing our growth, and needs to be resolved quickly.  But forcing the issue at a time where our fiscal house is already on shaky footing is a recipe for disaster.

It is in the best interests of the nation and its citizens that we raise the debt ceiling without any attachments and work on cutting spending once the nation is out of our economic crisis caused by the lack of employment for our citizens.  The real issue here, and the best way to start working on the solutions that will get us out of this crisis, is to work on measures that will increase jobs.

Because of drastic cuts not only at the Federal level but at the State and Local government level as well, public sector jobs have been lost at the same time there have been losses in the private sector.  In past recessions there have always been either a stagnation or a growth in the public sector that has helped to keep a demand for goods at a level that helped to fuel the recovery.  During this recession however, there has not only been a staggering loss of private sector jobs but in the public sector as well.  Since 2008, there has been a loss of almost 500,000 public sector jobs.  Just that loss alone is enough to cause substantial economic slow down, but if you couple it with all the job losses in the private sector you have a catastrophe of biblical proportions.  If any serious level of spending cuts gets passed in order to placate the Tea Party, those cuts will not only affect the lower and middle classes who are relying heavily on those services, but it may also cause another loss of public sector positions that may cause a loss in private sector jobs due to the decreased lack of demand and that will slow down the anemic growth we are experiencing or even send the nation back into a recession.

If we are to become a stronger nation at the end of this recession we must grow ourselves out of it.  We must do what is necessary to become stronger now so that when this recession ends, the nation is in a better fiscal position to solve the financial crisis.  There are several ways this can be done – infrastructure projects, removal of regulations that impede growth, temporary tax breaks for businesses who hire and expand.

Yet, these are all things that the Republicans do not want to see done because it means that the economy will grow, jobs will be created, and that may help President Obama get re-elected next year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said it best in late 2010…

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

The Republicans and the Tea Party have proven by their (lack of) actions and by their words that they do not care about solving the crisis we face.  They do not care about jobs or the economy.  They do not want to do what is necessary to strengthen the nation.  They only care that President Obama will serve only one term as President of the United States.

With more than half of the politicians in Congress working in unison to make the statement from Senator McConnell come true, what will happen to the “voice of the people” who want to see our nation come out of this crisis?

 

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