Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Infants And Grown Ups

We're not sure whether our first reaction should have been astonishment, shame, or stunned silence at the actions and words of the Republican Congressional Leadership yesterday in regards to the ongoing budget and debt talks. As writer and journalist Kevin Drum stated yesterday afternoon, "It's Now Official: The GOP is a Party of Sixth Graders."

We think that's an insult to sixth graders. At least most of them seem to understand when they're being called on their childish behavior.

Indeed, President Obama all but called the GOP infantile on Monday when he made that point that it is now time to make the painful and difficult decisions of governing, by saying that legislators on all sides needed to, "Pull off the band aid. Eat our peas."

The response from Congressional Republicans on Tuesday was only slightly more intelligible than the response of a colicky baby with a full diaper, in a house without air conditioning, in the middle of summer, being forced to eat its vegetables.

John Boehner's response was unconscionable, shirking both his personal and professional responsibility for governing by saying, "This debt limit increase is [Obama's] problem."

Mitch McConnell made Boehner look downright reasonable, however, when he laid out his own, convoluted, Rube Goldberg style-contingency plan that that Kevin Drum noted ought to be called, the "Gratuitous Embarrassment of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party Act of 2011."

McConnell's plan, in short, would have Congress conditionally abdicate its constitutional responsibility to appropriate funds, and give that power to the President - an idea which was never envisioned by any of the founding fathers. The President, would be allowed to raise the debt ceiling on his own, in short-term, temporary chunks without any other authorization from Congress. Once the President moved to raise the debt ceiling, it would literally take an act of Congress - a "resolution of disapproval" according to McConnell - to stop him from allocating the money. The President could veto Congress' resolution - but then it would take a two-thirds majority of Congress, in both Houses, to override the President's veto.

Not only is this the most convoluted and brazen attempt to sidestep political responsibility that we've ever seen, it's also one of the dumbest and most childish.

We're aware that there is going to be an enormous amount of political pain surrounding this decision. The President's peas and band-aids comments weren't meant as a joke. As he also pointed out, the closer we get to the 2012 election, the more painful and uncomfortable these kinds of difficult but necessary political decisions will be.

"Now is the time to do it," President Obama made clear. "If not now, when?"

We actually find ourselves partially agreeing with TPM's Josh Marshall, that McConnell's last ditch effort may have at least one good point, in that it would force Democrats to keep doing what they've mostly been doing for some time now: "go to the public with what they believe is best for the country, and be accountable for it."

As Marshall also notes, "...that's what people who are given the power to govern are supposed to do."

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