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.