This May Be The Last Time
I am far from certain that Republicans abhor deficits; witness Ronnie Reagan’s bold tax cuts, ushered in as a vain attempt to starve Congress’ ability to keep spending on social welfare and defense. Even as his biggest success as President, maybe his only success other than successfully decimating Grenada and shutting down its offshore medical school, was to spend the Russian defense machine into bankruptcy. It worked. But, the only way to outspend the Russians was to spend dollars we did not have. Result: legendary deficits.
George HW Bush demonstrated the inevitable conflict between taking an electable position and taking a governing position. After inheriting the preceding President’s record deficits, HW first declared “Read My Lips: No New Taxes,” and then shortly, in historical time if not “election cycle 15-minutes and the news is over time,” set about correcting his ideologically tone-deaf predecessor. Wait, that’s not fair. Reagan was not tone-deaf. He was fact-aversive — leaving GHW Bush to rein in the deficit or take the sword for not. Ronnie’s eight glorious years of “It’s Morning in America” left a bitter legacy for his successors.
Scholars, economists, central bankers, statesmen, even fringe candidates all agree: uncontrolled deficits are unacceptable. But mostly these people, all correct in their analysis, are not running for election. Those who were running are quickly forgotten, including Ross Perot, who elected Bill Clinton. Don’t start whining, you conservatives; the guy who proved that he is indeed unsafe at any speed, Ralph Nader, (this is where George Lucas derived Darth Vader, right?) brought us the defeat of what’s-his-name; was it Ralph Reed, Lamar Alexander? Dang it. His dad was a Senator. He carries an anti-CO2 inhaler. The most boring presidential candidate since Wilbur Mills. Wait, Wilbur was a fountain diver. Oh yeah, it finally came to me: Al Gore. Ralph Nader brought us George W. Bush: Extremists f-bomb up elections.
But we were talking about deficits. Does anyone really care about actually eliminating deficits? We will all be dead before anyone has to actually deal with deficits. Democrats pile up deficits to fund the social safety net, and Republicans pile up deficits in a hopeless attempt to starve the Democrats from funding the safety net. Deficits are meaningless except as a push-poll tool to graffiti the opposition, and they scare the markets.
Meanwhile, back to geologic time, Congress, tacitly recognizing that people who run for election every two years cannot actually simultaneously cut back on spending while depriving their constituents of roads and shipyards and bridges to nowhere, once enacted Gramm-Rudman, a parliamentary device which required any spending increase to be offset by a corresponding budget cut. Congresspeople were partially freed from responsibility. Going home to Boise or Lake Okoboji; Gee folks, I’m sorry we can’t fund your bridge but the (Democrats/Republicans) are making me take money out of (Social Security/ defense spending/ Congressional junkets to the Bahamas) and I can’t get it done. That damn Gramm-Rudman Act.
Too bad it expired. Next came the military base closing commission, which freed congresspeople from voting for (or against) closing bases in their own districts. Let’s keep inventing new ways to abdicate responsibility, folks. Simpson-Bowles?
Michele, Ron, Eric, Speaker Boehner: To exactly what duties are you seeking election? Posturing, speech-making or governing?
We could build grinning cardboard cutouts of all of the Senators and Representatives and divert all of that election spending for charities. Post those cutouts in the chamber and rotate them up to the dais on two-minute intervals. At least there would always be a quorum. No speeches, just smiles.
What fired me up about this whole subject is the fact that my barely recovered stock portfolio and mutual funds are likely to melt down, again, in the next four weeks. Why? Because the tea party House members, who don’t know it yet but they are figuratively donning orange robes to perform acts of public self-immolation, are going to stare down the Senate, the President and Wall Street, and blow their own asses up, and probably mine too.
Even Grover Norquist, the “no net taxes” pledge mentor, doesn’t require this meltdown of his newly-acquired too-clinging acolytes; he just wants them to reform tax loopholes and cut the across-the-board tax rates. He does not care about deficits, nor debt ceilings, he just cares about the government taking our dollars and spending them, when he thinks the private sector can spend those dollars more effectively.
The tea party folks are acting a bit like lemmings, friends. But, what’s a mere cliff in the course of life’s journeys?
The debt ceiling increase was predestined, even required, by the last Congressional budget. Michele, Ron Paul, Eric the spoiled three-year-old, dudes, friends, you already voted to increase the debt when you approved the budget. Read my lips: You Are Toast. Burnt Toast.
Every day I think about this and every day I am reminded of the classic Rolling Stones song: The Last Time. So I looked up the lyrics, and hot damn, holy ——-, man do these lyrics fit the current scene:
Well I told you once and I told you twice
But ya never listen to my advice
You don’t try very hard to please me
With what you know it should be easy
Well this could be the last time
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know. Oh no. Oh no
Well I told you once and I told you twice
That someone will have to pay the price
But here’s a chance to change your mind
Who could perform this best? Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? Bob Dole? Mike Enzi?
No, friends, this song is best sung in the relevant political context as a duet, by Alan Simpson and George HW Bush. And, oh God, please, could they get Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to do the “doo-wop” background vocals? “Read My Lips” over and over……
Would someone please remind these newly-minted fiscal ideologues that compromise is not a four-letter word? Okay, that won’t work. At least they can say, “I will vote for one more debt-limit increase but This Will Be The Last Time.”
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