All the World’s a Stage: Debt will not exit Left or Right

President Obama: Upstage or Upstaged?

Bookmark and Share    You know you’re in trouble when Warren Buffet comes out of the woodwork to offer a plan. And, you know you’re in bigger trouble when you kind of agree with him. Buffet’s plan is this: “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” Buffet says he was only half joking, but it may be recorded as one of his more sensible observations.

The reality is that the debt talks are theater pure and simple.

Look at the backdrop: We are in a new presidential election cycle, which complicates matters. Then look at President Obama taking center stage. Maybe a reason why the Leftists are going so negative on Obama here is that even they recognize a guy wanting to keep the lead role, sorry running for election, when they see one.

Entering Stage Left is his most trenchant critic Paul Krugman, writing reviews that he hopes will close this show, but he has difficulty closing a toilet seat at the best of times. He says, “let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the GOP’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.” Yes, Mr. Krugman it is the simple truth.

However, theater is about fantasy so let’s move to the next Scene.

President Obama says “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.” Krugman says this is conservative ideology, since government should not budget like families, and argues businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers. There’s a reason for that Mr. Krugman at a time when the economy is actually growing, it’s called confidence and politicians are knocking the stuffing out of the economy in a staged fight.

So let’s go to the next Act, and the dramatic scene featuring the President addressing the audience directly.

Obama says the debt ceiling should not “be used as a gun against the heads” of Americans to retain breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies, using some of his most direct dialog to date. He wants to reduce the deficit, in part, through new tax revenue raised by closing loopholes and tax subsidies. Beneath the rhetoric to the audience, however, is a soliloquy to the Democrats of good old fashioned class warfare.

So, entering stage Right, the Republicans oppose measures that raise taxes, demanding steep reductions in the US budget deficit as the price of a debt increase. Leftist rag The Nation (I refer you to the earlier point of Krugman closing the toilet seat), says, “Republicans have been negotiating in bad faith, unwilling to compromise even an inch on their extremist and absolutist positions. Some are no longer willing to come to the table at all.” Leftists sing a chorus that the Republican Party is threatening to default on the nation’s debt and this will sabotage the global economy on the basis of narrow ideological goals. A new verse is being added as you read this, namely that the President should invoke Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which says that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

Democrats and Republicans remain “far apart on a wide range of issues,” Obama, said wringing his hands as he adjusted his teleprompter prop. “Everyone acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of Aug. 2 to make sure America does not default for the first time on its obligations. And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides.”

Meanwhile, the Opening Night of this show, August 2, is fast approaching and the cast are still fluffing their lines over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

At Thursday’s rehearsal, all the lead cast turned up and “All the leaders came here in a spirit of compromise and of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.” So, it will be alright on the night! President Obama hopes Sunday’s dress rehearsal will pave the way for the “hard bargaining” necessary for a deal, because “Everybody acknowledges that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides,” he said. And, the chorus joined in with a handful of officials on both sides of the aisle indicating they are ready to give ground.

With all this improvisation, let’s just remind ourselves of the script: •Public debt was $14.3 trillion on 31 May, up from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January 2009 •Congress has voted to raise the US debt limit 10 times since 2001 •The largest expenditures of the projected $135 Billion deficit include: $80.9 Billion on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, $72.9 Billion on government agency expenses, $31.7 Billion on Defense, and $29.0 Billion on Interest on Treasury securities.

In the show Chorus Line, the opening song ends with the lines:

Who am I anyway?

 Am I my resume?

 That is a picture of a person I don’t know.

 What does he want from me?

What should I try to be?

So many faces all around, and here we go.

 I need this job, oh God, I need this show.

Yeah, the show must go on Mr. President…it’s time for your close up.

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Gingrich Tells House Republicans to Place Budget Cuts Over Government Shutdown

Bookmark and Share As President Obama and Senate Democrats face-off with House Republicans on matters of the budget that could force a March 6th shutdown of the federal government, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently penned an excellent editorial in the Washington Post which lent advice to Republicans that wasbased upon his own firs hand experience . It was 16 years ago when the Gingrich led House of Representatives and President Clinton clashed over the budget and actually forced a shutdown of government.

In his editorial Gingrich explains that at a crucial juncture in 1995, after technically fulfilling several budgetary aspects of the Contract With America , he and fellow Republicans weren’t interested in procedural success but instead understood that they were elected to deliver results. So the House Republican leadership decided that they would voluntarily balance the budget eventhough they were unable toachievea balanced budgetamendment mandating such a thing.

The former Speaker states that after the House adopted a timetable and created a plan that would end deficit spending by 2002, the Clinton White House and Senate Democrats set out to test our seriousness. They made a calculated, cynical decision to use the threat of a presidential veto – which would close the government – to insist that we drop our balanced budget.

Gingrich adds that:

it was President Bill Clinton’s veto of our budget in December 1995 that closed the government. The White House knew that it could use the power of the presidency and the support of liberal media to blame us. So, we faced a choice. We could cave in and be accepted by the Washington establishment, or we could stand firm for a balanced budget for the American people. We decided to stick to our principles through a very contentious and difficult period. Our attempt to balance the federal budget was distorted in the news media as an effort to ruin family vacations, frustrate visitors to the nation’s capital and prevent government employees from going to work. For the Republican leadership, the effort to hold together the House and Senate caucuses while negotiating with the White House became extraordinarily exhausting.

But in the end it was Republican determination which ultimately produced the first of four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s balanced budgets that paid off more than $450 billion in federal debt, overhauled welfare, strengthened Medicare and enacted the first tax cut in 16 years. Gingrich added;

It was this tax cut that boosted economic growth and allowed us to balance the budget four years earlier than projected. During my years as speaker, more than 8.4 million new jobs were created, reducing the national unemployment rate from 5.6 percent to 4.3 percent.”

After laying out the case Newt urges the G.O.P. to work to keep the government open, unless it requires breaking their word to the American people and giving up their principles. It his belief that House Republicans should give President Obama and Senate Democrats the opportunity to sign significant spending reductions and keep the government open, or to veto their cuts and close the government. And if they go for the second option Republicans must;

make clear that it is their stubborn liberalism that is closing the government.

The approach which Gingrich takes is both a moral one and a strategic one. Morally we as Republicans know that the moral thing to do is to begin to make sure that we stop spending more than we have. Furthermore; we realize that the proper way to do this is by cutting spending not raising taxes. Therefore the Gingrich approach is the right thing to do. It is in fact what they were elected to do.

Strategically though Gingrich is also correct to warn us to preempt the liberal media biases and general liberal spin machine that will undoubtedly try to paint Republicans as the heartless fiends who would should down government and take from the poor to give to the rich.

For Gingrichs advice to work, every Republican entity from the RNC to state and local Republican committees and from the Republican Governors Association the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional campaign committees must get on the same page and join with TEA Party groups across the nation in a campaign that can make Democrats inability to stop spending like drunken sailors the blame for such a a government shutdown.

Only if the forces which elected the new Republican House majority, stay united behind the issues they voted on, and only if House Republicans prove to be committed to those issues will it work. Without such a partnership of commitment to cuts by legislators and of , commitment by voters to the legislators who support such cuts, the news will not be good for the G.O.P. But if this partnership holds firm the real bad guys can take the heat for their real bad decisions.

I would also add this. Republicans should be much more afraid of compromising their principles than of a government shutdown. If they do not go all out to achieve the significant budget cuts they seek, voters will turn their backs on them for years to come. For many voters, 2010 was a last chance for Democrats to prove themselves to be sincere fiscal conservatives not liberal spenders. As such if the government remains open on March 6th but Republicans failed to achieve any significant spending solutions, the majorities that elected them in to office will be much less inclined to vote for them again. On the other hand, if there is a government shutdown and Republicans have shown that it is because Democrats refused to make necessary spending cuts, those who supported them before, will continue to do so and more will join them.

The bottom line is that Newt is right. Now if he is willing to take this message and translate it into a Republican campaign for President, it just make have a lot of play.

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