Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Purity People & The Debt Ceiling

No conservative is for more debt so the recent posturing by some among us over the looming extension of the federal debt ceiling, while not surprising, is discouraging. MC refers, of course, to the purity people who seem not to be going away despite ample failures due to their rigidity and political tone-deafness. The errors of their approach seem to take on new shapes or manifestations.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is the most recent disappointing example. She is fundraising via an online petition to just say no to raising the federal debt ceiling. Her position is irresponsible and MC isn't about to be lectured by anyone about being soft on the national debt. But to take advantage of people's increasing alarm about the issue in such a way as to benefit financially while failing to educate them on the consequences of raising the ceiling is just wrong. Bachmann is not dumb, despite her detractors' claims and, it must be said, her occasional verbal gaffes. MC is consequently mystified as to her conduct. Click HERE to see her PAC solicitation. Could there be less information provided?

MC was initially leery about the prospect of a Speaker Boehner (and that was before his cringe-inducing crying jags) but now must correct that impression. Boehner seems measured, sober and careful. Above all, he seems to have listened very well indeed to the shellacking heard around the world. This only bodes well for a continued GOP controlled House of Representatives.

However, Boehner himself has said that the vote on raising the debt ceiling will be an adult moment for freshly minted Congress members hailing from the tea party movement. And indeed it will be. No responsible elected member of Congress would allow the United States to default on its financial obligations. Bachmann's demand that the USA go "cold turkey" on debt is relatively insane, to use a neutral term. It works well, apparently, for heroin or cigarette smoking. The international, interconnected financial system? No.

William Kristol is a big fan of Bachmann, as is MC for the most part. Kristol, fortunately, is not a purity person but an adult. He has come to admonish the Congresswoman for this exceptionally regrettable position. Click on the title of this post to read his comments. MC especially liked:

"This is irresponsible. I've seen no plausible plan that would enable us to go "cold turkey" (to use her term) fast enough or dramatically enough that we could reduce the deficit to zero in a few months--which is what would be required if Congress were not to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling.

If Michele Bachmann has such a plan, she should share it with us. If not, she should withdraw her endorsement of the "cold turkey" petition, and help figure out what legislation could be attached to the debt ceiling or passed separately that would further the cause of real spending restraint and reduction. But there's no turkey cold enough to enable us to avoid raising the debt ceiling."

Purity people can no longer grandstand on principles immune from the real world. Just this weekend past Bachmann said on CBS that she lived in the real world. If in fact she does, she will vote to raise the debt ceiling the minimal amount while extracting the greatest concessions on spending cuts. This is what adults do. This is what leaders, as opposed to politicians, do.

MC notes in closing that despite her rhetoric, Bachmann has not refused the pay raise Congress recently granted itself despite PR stunts designed to make her appear against it. Yet democrat Congressman Tim Walz has.

Purity people have run out of room in having it both ways. They should remember that while they posture as the ones watching "the establishment," they themselves are being watched. Media saturation and fund raising prowess are no longer sufficient for not walking the walk. And it will be the very base they profess to represent that will hold them to account.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you that there is "no turkey cold enough" to avoid raising the debt ceiling a couple of months from now. But I will point out that we go through this song and dance year in and year out, sometimes more than once a year, and we never get the turkey even plucked, let alone cold. I'm waiting for some description of what possible legislation could be attached to this debt limit increase that would finally and completely eliminate the need to do it again. Perhaps the threat of cold turkey-- taking this right to the brink-- might make our legislators "scared straight"?

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill

MikeWBL said...

Yes we do deserve better. We deserve better than Obama!

Anonymous said...

On further consideration, how about this: Add a balanced budget Constitutional amendment and a list of "low hanging fruit" budget cuts (reclaiming unspent TARP or stimulus money, for example) to a SHORT term-- 2 or 3 month extension. Two months hence, add some MORE budget cuts to another two month extension. Lather, rinse, repeat.

J. Ewing

Lorena B. said...

Thank you for the sane commentary about Michelle Bachmann's "cold turkey" plea. We can do better than Michelle Bachmann. Her gaffes may seem minor to some, but as a long-time Minnesotan I find her and her "purity" stance and general lack of professionalism to be embarrassing at best. And calls like this one - that are only designed to elevate her in the conservative media and curry favor among the TP - are beyond irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

We are all assuming that the Chicken Littles of the Obama administration are telling us the truth about the consequences of failing to expand the debt limit. No doubt it will make the administrations spending spree more difficult in the short term--3 or 4 months, perhaps-- and impossible in the longer term with somewhat dire if not disastrous consequences. But I don't think the idea of pushing this to, or just past, the brink in order to exact some fiscal sanity is a bad idea. If it forces a "government shutdown" we may discover that we can do with less very quickly, and that's the opposite lesson Obama and Co. do NOT want us to learn. They may be very accommodating, rather they do so believing their own hype or because they recognize the danger to their agenda doesn't matter, at least to me.

J. Ewing

Anonymous said...

Actually, it would seem irresponsible to raise your credit card limit when there is no earthly way you can pay off the tab you've already run up. No sane bank would do so, and since we're the "bank" in this case it's time to cut up that credit card that Congress has been abusing. Don't blame Rep. Bachmann for laying out the honest truth and best solution, just because you don't like her. I just saw another analysis, from Ben Bernanke no less, that said we COULD survive such a situation under certain circumstances.

J. Ewing