• Reasoning With Those Who Cannot Be Reasoned With.

    You gotta hand it to President Obama. Keeping the cool, calm and conciliatory tone when faced with the wrath and obstinence of hundreds of petulent assholes and "True Believer" types is nothing short of amazing, especially when dealing with a deadline for American financial solvency. It feels like any other president would have dropped kicked a congressman or two just for appearances sake over something of this magnitude.

    But a lot of people are pointing out that this conciliatory, compromising nature of his is his biggest weakness. They want him to grow some of those minerals (for all you "Snatch" fans) and start breathing down some necks, or at least go out on his own and effect policy that momentarily resolves the debt ceiling issue. The level-headedness of the president isn't gonna impress or help someone who relies on SSI disability checks for income, or job-seekers using the last of their unemployment benefits to keep things at home afloat. These people want to see some action on part of the president, and I don't blame them.

    Meanwhile, you gotta hand it to the ever-present Tea Party contingent of the GOP for "staying the course", or whatever they call it these days. They have a goal, and it is to use this current (manufactured) crisis to not only hang a failure over Obama's neck like so many dead Albatrosses and send him packing come November 2012, but also to drive the country over the fiscal edge right now and into a genuine depression, one that may or may not rival that of the Great Depression that kicked off in late 1929 and didn't let up until sometime near the end of WWII. The whole idea behind this plan is to trigger a moment of weakness in American history where they can finally present and implement their socioeconomic policies and make their ideology the "gold standard" among Americans.

    And not for lack of trying. So far, they've made it clear that "compromise" is out of the question -- either Obama can accept their policies in whole or he can deal with the upcoming shitstorm, with the Tea Party apparently secure in the knowledge that Obama will end up shouldering the blame for "inaction" or "not acting enough". Either way, they believe they have a win -- Obama caves to them in order to save the country or people turn their backs on him on Election Day.

    These policies are more of the same "cut spending, cut taxes, cut services" spiel that's done nothing to stimulate the economy, except this time, the policy comes from a group of people whose fervor and conviction that these things work rivals that of the Evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses. They just know, deep down in their hearts, that these things will work and they will make them work. Reality? Please. These guys will ignore reality -- they've managed to create their own reality where they see themselves as the heroes that Americans don't want, but need and even deserve to have. When you have that much fanaticism within the party, you're bound to have problems. (More after the break)

    The basic, sacrosanct tenet of Tea Party policy is to never raise taxes, especially not on the wealthy or the corporations, also known as the so-called "job creators", despite a 35% top marginal tax rate, a 15% capital gains tax rate and a number of loopholes at their disposal. The military budget is also something that brings little to no notice to them, nevermind it is perhaps our nation's biggest expense. Programs that are seen as helping minorities and the disadvantaged are targeted for fiscal destruction. And regulations that currently stymie corporate interests from "maximizing their profits" are also targeted for eventual removal under the Tea Party regime.

    These guys want to cut Pell Grants. That's right -- these guys, most whom were bankrolled into college by their families or on scholarships, want to cut to death one of the things that make it easier for ordinary Americans to gain a college education. John Boehner threw that in as a last-minute lure to get enough Teabaggers on board to pass his proposal.

    In order to achieve these policies, they can't and won't afford to waver in their determination. It's like being in the backseat of a car with someone who's literally dying for a game of Chicken, where the driver is dead-set on driving head-on into oncoming traffic. Other cars are swerving out of the way, but at some point the driver's gonna see himself a object that can't get out of his way fast enough (or something that can't move -- a telephone pole, perhaps?) and plot a course. The Tea Party driver thinks this is all for the good of the nation, and there's absolutely no one who can tell them otherwise.

    The interesting thing about the debt ceiling issue is that it hasn't been such a big issue during the previous administrations. Those administrations managed to bump up the debt ceiling with relatively little fanfare. Hell, Congress raised the debt ceiling five times since 2001, and there wasn't much, if anything, anyone had to say about it. The CRS Report from Congress highlights the various debt limit increases during George Bush's administration, specifically how the squandering of the surpluses left behind by the Clinton administration required multiple debt ceiling raises over an 8-year period. This paragraph stood out the most for yours truly:

    In 2005, Congress included debt limit raising reconciliation instructions in the
    FY2006 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 95). Approval of the budget resolution in
    April 2005 triggered the automatic passage of a debt limit increase in the House.
    With no action having been taken by December 2005, the Secretary of the Treasury
    sent several letters warning Congress that the Treasury would exhaust its options to
    avoid default by mid-March 2006. Congress passed an increase in mid-March, which
    the President signed on March 20.

    So this isn't the first time that the U.S. has come close to falling into the fiscal muck, although in this case it seemed like a mere oversight that someone made and had corrected, as though it was no big deal.

    I'm just hoping the car runs out of gas and slows to a stop, or the passengers find the emergency brake and hold on for dear life. If not, it's gonna be a bloody fucking mess.