Standard and Poor’s recent decision to downgrade the credit worthiness of the United States has quickly devolved into a Washington finger pointing exercise.
The Administration insists that S&P erred in their evaluation and that the US is and always will be a AAA rating while in the same breath blame the conservative Tea Party in Congress for the devaluation.
Just as the president holds an opinion on the S&P analysis – every American that cares about such issues is coalescing around punditry views, left and right.
A cornerstone of the S&P opinion is that our dysfunctional government is a detriment to the credit worthiness of America – correct or not, this decision has rocked the world’s financial markets.
S&P went on to lay significant blame (or more aptly, finger wagging) at the Republican party by pointing out that the Right’s refusal to consider tax hikes on the wealthy to increase government revenues impacts the government’s ability to control the debt relative to Gross Domestic Production in the out years. S&P projected, if the Bush-era tax cuts do not expire in 2013, even with spending cuts, the net public debt burden will exceed 100 percent of GDP in 10 years. (S&P report, page 4)
John Boehner, in the aftermath of the debt ceiling war claimed conservatives were able to get 98 percent of what they wanted through the bloodletting. For Boehner, giving up two percent constitutes “compromise” – something he is adamantly against.
While Republicans and Tea Partiers must accept a fair share of the blame for their role in the downgrading of America, there is plenty of blame left to go around.
At the height of the budget debate the president made it clear that ending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy was his top priority. In the end, the president capitulated on a two year extension in return for unemployment benefit funding for the long-term unemployed. By doing so, the president made clear that raising revenue is a lower priority than extending benefits to citizens in a tough economic spot.
Fast forward to the debt ceiling debate – one of the components of the “compromise” to pass the legislation was to cut funding for the same unemployment benefits. The president is the kid that got beat up for his lunch money, then got spanked when he got home for losing his milk money.
Barack Obama is currently at risk of going down in history as one of the worst leaders this country has ever had. Democrat apologists, the president included, will point out that he inherited much of the problems facing this country and the economy, and while true – it’s also irrelevant.
It is the president’s responsibility to articulate a vision for this country and LEAD in achieving that vision. As a campaigner, the president provided great speeches that were short on vision and since taking office he has done very little in terms of leadership. Even his signature “achievement/failure” “Obamacare” isn’t even his. He abdicated the leadership role to a democrat-controlled Congress that couldn’t pass legislation with the “core” elements the president claimed were central to health care reform.
Obama is like the captain of a ship that is taking on water. He has made it his full-time job to keep the ship afloat and has completely forgotten where the ship is supposed to sail to. Even that job has has become exacerbated by his Republican colleagues who know where they want to take the country, but they don’t care if the ship sinks before we get there.
Congressional Democrats have absolutely failed to articulate and define what their core positions are with regard to governance priorities. Republicans love to highlight the fact that the budget debate that played out in the beginning of the year should never have happened in the first place had the Dems simply done their job and passed a budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year – which unfortunately was six weeks prior to the mid-term election – and they are absolutely correct in their criticism!
Democrats were so spineless and afraid to have a budget vote on the record prior to the election they punted the budget to the next congress – then went on to get creamed in the mid-terms anyway. The reason they were afraid to have a vote on the budget was that they had no effective answer as to justification for government expenditures requiring borrowing essentially $1.5 trillion to fund government operations.
Lastly, the final blame for the mess this country is in lies with you and me. We are absolutely to blame for our treatment of politics, Republicans vs. Democrats, Red vs. Blue, Fox vs. MSNBC, as a sport where there are winners and losers and ties are to be shunned at all costs.
It used to be that elected leaders recognized following an election that they represented their entire congressional districts or states – not just the 51 or 52 percent that allowed them to take office. This, more than anything else, highlights the root of government dysfunction. Conservatives do not represent Americans – they only represent the slim majority that voted for them while heaping disdain on the views and desires on the remaining 48-49 percent that didn’t vote for them.
Democratic leaders, on the other hand, have demonstrated their unwillingness (or inability) to pander only to the slim majorities that elected them – always willing to compromise away the values of those that put them in office.
American approval of Congress is at a historic low. We all seem to literally hate these bozos – but come November 2012, we will return to office the vast majority of these same bozos that we claim to not approve of – for that, we get the blame!