The markets are in a free-fall as Congress’ failure to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling begins to have real-life repercussions. Namely, that’s my retirement savings swirling the drain, and frankly I’m pissed off. On the positive side: who thinks putting Social Security in the stock market is a good idea now?
So what have we learned?
• It’s a brave new world, and most people are in complete denial. I can’t tell you how many people I speak to who assume the debt ceiling crisis will be resolved … any second now! Honest! They’ve been telling me this for weeks. Months, in fact. My financial adviser who oversees my ever-dwindling retirement account told me just last week that he was convinced a deal was already in place and we were just seeing some political face-saving. “The Tea Party only represents 19% of the population,” he told me. Yes, but unfortunately they’re more than 50% of the House of Representatives, and that’s all that matters.
• We’ve learned that anyone who thinks they can negotiate with Republicans as if they were reasonable, sane people is smoking something. These are not reasonable people. They are zealots. And we all know how zealots operate. They’d rather burn down the country than give an inch. This is insanity, but pretty much everyone to the left of President Obama saw it coming. Of course, no one listens to us.
• We’ve learned that you can never, ever trust the Republican Party near the U.S. economy again. Ever. As my neighbor said as I was walking the dog this morning: “The Republicans are trying to take down the president, and they don’t care if they take down the entire country to do it.” This is what Real America is saying, folks: no one buys Boehner’s “blank check” line, and yes, we blame Republicans.
• Old pieces of conventional wisdom — for example, that “divided government” is best — no longer apply. I already covered that earlier this month but when you’re dealing with zealots, what you get is gridlock and dysfunction. That might go unnoticed on most things — who really notices that there’s a backlog of federal judges awaiting confirmation unless you work in that world? — but when dealing with a housekeeping issue like the debt ceiling, we can all see it and feel it in our pocketbooks.
• Blue Dogs still don’t make any sense. Last week Rep. Jim Cooper, my congressman, was one of only five Democrats to vote for the “Cut, Cap & Balance” bill. Yet he responded to my e-mail about this issue by saying while we need to secure the nation’s fiscal future, he’s not for “crazy cuts.” He wrote:
I believe that Congress needs to tighten its belt, restore fiscal discipline, and develop a strategy that offers common-sense solutions to restore our long-term fiscal health. I’m for cuts, but not crazy cuts that indiscriminately slash services our students, veterans, and seniors rely on, as well as job-promoting programs that are helping Middle Tennesseans get back to work.
Well, “Cut, Cap & Balance” would have to be full of crazy cuts to make it work. Personally, I think Cooper is panicking, and can you blame him? He wants a deal — any deal, Christ almighty let’s get this over with, pass anything, we can fix it later. He does have one good idea: if the nation goes into default, he proposes stopping pay for all members of Congress, nor would they be allowed to recoup their lost pay later. This is all very well and good but I don’t know how many members of Congress are in it for the money. It’s a symbolic gesture, the kind of stuff Cooper usually eschews, but at least it’s something.
• The American people are absolutely powerless to do anything about this dire situation, save come up with some creative Twitter hashtags. Have you tried calling your Congress Critter? Good luck. The lines have been busy for two days. I’m glad I called last week — for all the good it will do.
So yes, #FuckYouWashington. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life, not during the Nixon years, not during Watergate, not during the Iran-Contra scandals and AbScam and the Iranian hostage crisis, no not even during the awful uncertainty around the 2000 election. Some people need to be fired, namely Republican assholes who refuse to listen to reason. And, you know, Harry Reid who thought he was dealing with the Republican Party of 2004. When what he’s dealing with is a GOP who wants, first and foremost, for Obama to fail: nothing more, and nothing less.
Via Slate’s Dave Weigel, scenes from the Tea Party’s “Hold The Line” rally, which drew … dozens! Dozens I tell you! … of reporters. People? Not so much. That’s Louie Gohmert speaking to the cameras and pretty much no one else, guess everyone else left to hit the all-you-can-eat buffet at Applebee’s. As usual, click on the photo to enlarge.
I simply can’t believe our entire national economy has been taken hostage by this pathetic excuse for a “movement.”