Back in April (a lifetime ago in politics), Congress passed the budget for the year and then, when the common man began to breathe a sigh of relief that the government wasn't going to shut down, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner (bundle of joy that he is) said that the debt limit was going to have to be raised, otherwise the US AAA Bond Rating (our credit score) was going to go down the toilet and possibly put the economy, which is now generally agreed to be an anemic recovery, into a tailspin and then we're back where we started in 2008 or worse.
I remember thinking, well, they should raise the debt ceiling then. They should question what the purpose of a limit is if they are just going to raise the limit whenever they want to. Then I remembered that there is the GOP. The party that doesn't question what a Republican president do, but when a Democrat is in there, all of a sudden, it doesn't matter what the previous president did, we have to focus on the current administration. But for conservatism, a line of thought that spends so much time on history and studying the way things have worked, its convenient for them to either be amnesiacs OR for them to have suddenly seen the light!
So it didn't matter that the debt ceiling was raised about 7 times under the previous administration. It didn't matter that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were never put on the books and now this president is responsibly putting them in the figures for the budget. The rest of it didn't matter. The only thing that matters now is cutting entitlement spending and not willing to make one single compromise.
The GOP, at first, said that under no circumstances were they going to raise the debt limit. Then Boehner said that, actually, there were circumstances and that would include cuts in spending in the trillions of dollars BUT NO SPENDING INCREASES WHATSOEVER! Not even closing tax loopholes, the money that the wealthy should be paying but are not. NO, NOT EVEN THAT!!!
Then began the stalemate, with it's dramatic walk-outs, starting with Eric Cantor who walked out in the middle of the meeting and President Obama who walked out... at the end of the meeting, after setting the time for the next meeting... not nearly as dramatic as Mr. Cantor, but then again Obama doesn't act like a little child.
It didn't seem like anything was going to happen. It seems now at this writing that the US is going to fail to pass the measures necessary to raise the debt ceiling, we're going to go into default on our debt and that we're going to be speaking Mandarin by the end of the year... well, maybe not, but the default is likely to happen.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R - KY) proposed that the Congress pass a resolution that would give the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling to the president. It would be subject to a resolution of approval or disapproval (which the president would be able to veto and raise the debt limit anyway). I heard about this because I was listening to Sean Hannity's radio program. Sean Hannity has a head so big that I'm positive that it affects the tides.
Hannity, in a rare demonstration of journalism (a profession that he professes to be an active member of), reported the initial suggestions that McConnell's proposal, he immediately said "I'm going on the record that I don't believe this." Then he siad that if it was true, then McConnell, should "stand aside". Not "step down" but "stand aside". Which goes against the Reagan Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican, but that's hardly the point.
I mention this moment for two reason. First, Sean Hannity is a blathering idiot and when he talks, its at the detriment to the GOP . He's the conservative Jane Fonda or Barbra Streisand only without the Tony nominations (next year, Sean, next year!) In the last ten year,s, the Republicans have begun to rely too much on their non-elected officials to get their message out. Conservative commentators have too much impact and for all the talk about the influence of liberal bloggers (not me specifically, but the collective hive mind) and the liberal Hollywood Elite, nary a word is spoke about AM Talk Radio, conservative websites and Fox News. The idea that a Senator could have an idea (albeit a bad one, but an idea nonetheless) and be immediately politically threatened is disgraceful.
It shows a disparity within the GOP that must be addressed before the party returns to full power. And, because of the Two Party system, it's only a matter of time before they do.
The second reason is more obvious and is one that has already been discussed: that the Republicans are less interesting in coming to a resolution and are more interested in creating an atmosphere that they feel can support their return to the White House. it's political posturing on a level that is at least disingenuous and at most criminal. If Reince Priebus, the RNC Chair, wants the FEC to go after Obama for filming a campaign video in the White House, then he should also speak to the fact that the GOP are blatantly holding up negotiations while they struggle to control the narrative.
There's the suggestion that the GOP are crazy. I leave that for the New York Times Op-Ed page to discuss. However, if they are sane, then the only reason that the GOP would delay up to this point would be because they are trying to control the narrative. They are trying to convince people that not only what they are doing is the right thing to do but that, regardless as to the outcome, they have won the overall debate.
It's cowardice, a failure of ideas, and a failure of Republican leadership. The Tea Party may have bolstered the GOP in the past but if the Republicans can't come up with a real idea or admit to a simple compromise, conservatives have to find a new party. Because when it comes to evolution and adapting to survive, it helps to have a backbone.