Thursday, June 2, 2011

GOP playing "Chicken" with the Debt Ceiling

On Tuesday, May 31st, the GOP controlled House of Representatives voted down a "clean" bill to increase the Federal Government's Debt Limit by $2.4 trillion.  By a vote of 97 - 318, the symbolic vote on the "clean" bill went down to defeat as expected.  All House Republicans voted against it and were joined by 82 Democrats

The current debt limit is set at $14.3 trillion and if the bill had passes, would have gone to $16.7 trillion.  Now you might say that teaching the Federal Government a lesson, like credit card companies do by not increasing a person's credit limit when they have maxed out their credit card, seems reasonable and the Federal Government should live within their budget.  Fair enough except for one thing,...the Federal Government is not the average consumer. 

Tied to the debt ceiling is our credit rating, which as it stands now is still very, very good.  Just for comparison sake, Greece was recently downgraded, again, from B1 to Caa1.  As one international business analyst on CNBC described it, this is almost Junk Bond level and very close to a point where the nation of Greece could default on its debt payments.  The United States is still in the AAA rating level, but if we can't pay our bills it affects the rest of the world in really bad ways. 

The simple fact is that the Republicans are more scared of the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party wing of their caucus than they are of an even worse, shall we say nightmare scenario, of the U.S. government possibly defaulting on its debt obligations.  Heck, the GOP won't even consider raising taxes on the wealthy.  Their solution, only balance the budget and reduce our national debt by cutting the Federal Budget.  Tied to that faulty logic is cutting Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security which are paid for separately and aren't even the reason for our national debt.  That's it.  That's their path to prosperity. 

The Democrats on the other hand, don't want to cut any more from the budget and see their best opportunity to drive home the point that while tax payers don't want to pay anymore in taxes, they don't want to see any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.  If it means tax payers have to pay a little more in taxes to continue these programs, as well as other popular social programs, they'll do it. 

This sentiment has been aided by Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposal that turns Medicare into a voucher program and shifts more of the health care costs away from the Federal Government and onto seniors.  Simply put, this idea has gone over like a lead balloon. 

It seems like the GOP would clue in and be more fearful of the American Voter than the fringe elements of their Tea Party caucus.  During the 2010 Mid-Term elections, Republicans did a masterful job in scaring seniors and others that depend on the very programs they now propose gutting in order to balance the Federal Budget.  They were just as adept at painting Democrats as out of the mainstream and tagging them with the bad guy lable.  It's clear now, the tables have turned. 

It's not an overreach, or a stretch, to label what the GOP and their Tea Party caucus are trying to do as outside of the mainstream of America, or shall we say extreme or FRINGE.  This is a very dangerous game the Teapublicans are playing with the Debt Ceiling, and if they don't stop the losers will not only be their House Majority or chances at regaining the Senate or the White House, but the American people.