Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cynicism of McConnell's Debt Ceiling Fix

I am struck by how blatantly cynical and overtly political Mitch McConnell has been in promoting his fix for the debt ceiling crisis. I'm not naively thinking that partisan positions on legislation are not motivated by politics. Of course they are. But at least political discourse is usually about defending the merits of a given proposal -- why it is the right thing for America. The political strategy is usually left for the unspoken subtext.

But here we are, on the eve of a financial crisis, with discussions of the nation's economy and government finances at issue, and questions of higher taxes and severe cuts in popular programs being discussed in terms of numbers with 9 to 12 zeros attached (as if a billion dollars is a rounding error), and McConnell's rhetoric focuses almost exclusively not on what is good for the country, but what is good for the Republican party leading up to an election that is 16 months away.

Why should members of the public support and members of Congress vote for his proposal?

1) It puts the blame for raising the debt ceiling exclusively on the President; 2) it makes sure that Republicans don't partially "own" the bad economy by allowing a government default; 3) it lets Republicans vote against raising the debt ceiling to demonstrate their abhorence for government spending and makes Democrats vote in favor of more debt.

Now THAT is inspirational leadership. No wonder congressional job approval stands at 19.2 percent (and hasn't cracked 30 percent for almost 2 years).

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