columnist and Nobel Economist Paul Krugman finally really pinned the donkey
tail on the “Grand” old elephant. Right up the rump, you might say. He began with a gamey, idiomatic OpEd story
of the nasty neighbor who unaccountably sues you and even threatens your family
bodily harm, but finally is willing to “compromise,” and end the useless law
suit, as well as stop threatening your family… at least for a week or two, if
you only give him your car. But his family is unsatisfied and so
also insists you must shoot your dog. [I couldn’t stop laughing, at
least until I thought of the obvious children’s party game: Pin the Tail
on the Donkey]
perhaps it is much too kind to consider current Republican leadership as merely
blindfolded, spun around dizzy, and/or merely disoriented children.
Still, their teetering, almost giggling, group departure from their caucus to
plan their recent game or program of shutting down the government, cutting our
health care and generally destroying our government, except for a few functions
useful to the obscene growth of the billionaire sponsors that fund, elect, and
seems there is also an adult, drinking version of the game in which either the
“winner” in pinning the tail on the offending animal’s rump is given a martini,
or alternatively, only all others drink. But even in that model of the
current Washington game it is assumed that more or less rational adults are
playing the game.
understand the Japanese have a similar game, I wouldn’t dare pronounce it,
which includes the word war, and would seem to sound like a curse
in its first four letters. Of course the other somewhat similar
children’s game in another nation is the Mexican Bash and Smash the
Pinata till all the goodies fall out. But the Republicans have
already collected all the goodies, including with all their efforts to reduce
taxes on their sponsors, billions of dollar goodies for a few.
the key players in this Washington game, just concluding, are Senators Paul
Ryan and Ted Cruz, along with a few other House and Senate Republican
leaders. I understand Cruz is giving up his salary during the shut down to
charity. That’s nice, but I don’t know what his salary is over the weeks
involved and understand the cost of an earlier temporary shut down was a couple
of billion dollars. A failure of the temporary Shut Down, or even threat to
allowing the extension of the “debt ceiling” is understood to downgrade
our credit rating and therefore increase interest rates on new federal bonds.
That will cost us much more than any current losses in terms of the rise
on our major federal bond interest payments on new bonds sold to all the
foreign and domestic bond buyers who will be paid at those higher rates over
the life of those bonds. These “amusing” and now clearly useless, Republican
games will be paid by all Americans and their children including many billions
over many years ahead. Current estimates call for almost $20,000,000,000 in
added interest costs for us to pay over the next ten years. If voters
catch on and remember over the next year or two, will any Republican even be
able to be elected to be dog catcher?
these self styled patriots all trumpet their belief in the capitalist, American
system of monetizing, making costs in dollars as a means of making real
decisions, and taking responsibility for economic consequences of actions.
Perhaps economist Krugman would calculate the cost of their personal
responsibility from these leaders for their actions. Just how many
millions or tens of millions each should pay our U.S. Treasury to avoid
us each from much higher taxes. This is no “temporary inconvenience” as
some Republicans whine. Such fun and games is known to raise those
federal bond interest rates and our costs. Our federal debt, measured in
trillions of dollars, that is thousands of billions, was accrued largely from
all our wars since our nation was founded, over two centuries ago. This
debt, Republicans at least should well recall was doubled by their hero, Ronald
Reagan and his vice president just a generation ago.
recent crisis arose, as most readers know, when Republicans would not approve
the usual agreement to extend the current federal budget at the same weekly
rate for weeks or months [with a so-called Continuing Resolution] until
Congress can adopt a new annual budget. All amounts involved had all been
adopted by Congress and signed by the President.
last time this occurred was a year earlier when the Republicans were successful
in forcing the crude device of a unique Sequester to force cuts off a more or
less total range of federal expenditures including for national defense.
Many in both parties see the Sequester as very arbitrary and an unfortunate
slashing of public services.
a Continuing Resolution will most likely extend the Sequester slashing until a
new budget is adopted. Republicans seized this opportunity to “hold the
nation hostage” in their amazing effort to discredit our black president and
the Affordable Health Care Act he led to become law. A new budget, for
the next year, will have to revisit all the arbitrary effects of the Sequester
element forced into the last annual budget by the same hard liners.
other element in the recent federal crisis was the peculiar Department Limit
concept. Such an opportunity for the current political war did not exist
in federal budgeting before the First World War. One device to restrict
the use of this concept in blocking our government in the last generation was
the law that specified the Debt Limit would be automatically raised when the
budget and its appropriations are adopted. In the nineties that sensible
rule was dropped and so the opportunity to screw up to budget before Congress
planned the next annual budget was set up again.
event, over the next couple of months Congress will have to struggle over next
year’s budget. But the even bigger, underlying issue remains the system
of Congressional District borders must by changed so that a party, as in this
last election, failed to come even within 1,400,000 votes of winning a majority
of votes for the House of Representatives cannot end up with a controlling
majority of House members. That surely is not majority rule.
Existing systems are available, as discussed in earlier columns, to bring
majority rule on budget and all other matters if we are to avoid more of the
recent useless insanity.
Antioch College; MCP University of Pennsylvania; served as Long-Range Planning
Director for the New
York Metropolitan Regional Planning Commission, which ended in the South Tower
of the World
Planning Director for the New England Regional Commission;
Comprehensive Planning Director or for the United Nations Development
in Pakistan; Board Chairman of the Communications Committee for the United
Nations; Principal Representative of Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social
Responsibility to the United Nations; and Chair of the Quaker Regional
Committee for Peace and Social Order for eight Friends congregations in the New
York Metropolitan Region.