• 11:59

    5 days left before the United States hits its head on the "debt ceiling" and officially "defaults" on its $14 trillion dollars of debt and financial obligations, House Speaker John Boehner, also known as the "Tan Man" and "Orange Julius", is busy convincing his fellow GOP members and the Tea Party contingent within the House of Representatives to vote on a plan that raises the current debt ceiling, in exchange for billions in government spending cuts. Apparently, it's gonna be a hard sell, not just among Teabaggers who'd rather see the U.S. jog straight off of the fiscal cliff, but from Democrats in the Senate who are not pleased with the concessions being made.

    And speaking of concessions, it seems that a lot of people have about had it with President Obama's all-too-conciliatory tones and actions of compromise. Many wish that Obama would just sack up and invoke the 14th amendment "nuclear option", where Obama could simply raise the debt ceiling on his own.

    Browsing the comments at Balloon Juice, I came across an interesting bit of insight about Obama's current course of action from one Roger Smith:

    I don’t think he believes in austerity. He does believe that the budget needs to be balanced in the long term, i.e. that we’ll need to pay down the debt when the economy recovers. If he’s lost a messaging battle, it’s about the timing of the cuts. AFAIK, he’s proposing cuts that are far enough in the future that the economy should be healthier by the time they hit. They may still be too soon, but he’s not proposing that we slash everything next year.
    It looks to me as if this is an opinion that Boehner shares, which is part of the reason he’s being stabbed in the back by the Teabagger Caucus. The negotiations going on right now are over long-term cuts that won’t kick measurably for a few years. That’s obviously not enough for the neo-Hooverites, who want austerity now, not a promise of austerity in the future that the next Congress could ignore if they choose. That’s why the Teabaggers are ramping up the calls for a showdown on the upcoming budget even if they get a big cut in the debt ceiling negotiations.
    "Austerity". That's a word that keeps getting tossed around in conservative circles. The whole idea of austerity is to slash spending wherever you can, buckle down and ride out the economic storm. Which is a great idea if you're budgeting for a household of 5. Your income is dictated by whatever you can bring in from work and other income sources and if you have kids, well...those are outgoing expenses that you won't see any monetary returns on anytime soon. As an exercise, try imagining your kids actually make money, and you receive a portion of that money in the form of tax revenue, and that revenue goes towards the family budget. If the kids don't make any money because they're out of work, eventually you go begging for bread and beans. Unless you do as the U.S. government does and rely on a series of low interest, high spending limit credit cards that you don't necessarily have to pay off right away.

    The U.S. government is not a household. Instead, you have approximately 111,000,000 potential sources of revenue, yet over 20,000,000 of those are cooling their heels, wondering if they'll ever get any jobs in an "austere" economy.  In order to put those people back to work and get them to spend their money on things that corporations and the government make money on, you have to spend a little money on things that put people back to work. Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously did that with the Works Progress Administration (although he later had WWII as a rather convenient pick-me-up). This country has countless miles of interstate highway that needs revamping -- a public works project can not only help fix that, but also put tens, if not hundreds of thousands back to work.  It's a start, after all.

    But the Tea Party wants the U.S. government to treat itself like a 5-person household, withholding spending on essential programs that could help stimulate the economy and bring back needed jobs and hunkering down while the recession drags on. Doing nothing for those jobless 20,000,000 means you miss out on revenue from 20,000,000. Those 20,000,000 don't - and can't - spend their money on things that make make corporations money. Well, not that those corporations are hurting -- they're having the time of their lives right about now, with extra profits that are more than likely NOT being taxed. The Powers That Be™ can continue stacking their money in a corner in relative peace.

    Without that revenue, the U.S. government continues borrowing. And yes, I do realize the government tends to mismanage its funds on a constant basis. Come to think of it, conservatives point towards Social Security and welfare as two black holes of endless spending, yet they consciously ignore military spending and the various tax cuts and stimulus payouts given to multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. Remember when I said the top marginal tax rate in this country was about 35%? Yeah, they don't have to pay much, given the majority of their income comes from dividends and interest payments. That's something the capital gains tax takes care of. But only at a top 15% rate.

    At this point, not raising the debt ceiling will put the U.S. government's "AAA" financial rating at risk. And it is likely that grandma won't be getting her Social Security check. Or those 20,000,000 unemployed their unemployment benefits. With Wall Street begging the Tea Party contingent to come to their senses and not fuck things up for them, the GOP is most likely to come to an agreement between now and August 2nd, which is when the proverbial fiscal shit hits the fan. If not, things are gonna get a hell of a lot more interesting.