Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dancing on the Ceiling

I’m not one for jingoistic bluster, but… America, we dodged a bullet.

Not many people will be satisfied in the long run with Sunday’s compromise. The right end of the political spectrum is likely underwhelmed by the $2.4 trillion cut, the left side sitting shiva for such a major loss. The finer details of the cut are still dripping out, but for spectators like me it’ll be like how cows become beef: it delicious until you find out how it’s made. The president was faced with the highly unsavory option of having to raise taxes —confirming the worst fears of his conservative critics— but when that bullet point was grudgingly wiped off the table as reluctantly as it was initially suggested, the wheels were turning again. To be fair, this now-hypothetical taxation would’ve risen back to Clinton-era levels, a modest spike for some but a massive point of resistance for Tea Party Republicans.

I don’t want to kick Speaker John Boehner while he’s down, but in hindsight his proposal to raise the debt ceiling might’ve been too partisan. Boehner’s inability to muster enough GOP votes in Congress late last week not only inadvertently broke the budget gridlock, but gave President Obama the slightest morsel of a victory in a moment when he badly needed it. After that, the ball was in the president’s court; the new GOP strategy would’ve been too far-right to gain traction, and house Democrats had to woo that rarest and most endangered of species, moderate Republicans. Alas, I can’t call Obama the true winner, either; the plan that coasted through the House and Senate and signed by the president earlier today had to be approved no matter the flaws, or otherwise we’d suffer the consequences. This was a small triumph for the middle of the road; only the far right and extreme left opted not to follow the leader.

Alas, one crucial compromise will not inspire a renewal of faith in our government . Congress had to break up the loggerheads somehow or face dire consequences. One would argue that the budget crisis of 1979 provided some inspiration, but the true comparison point is Greece. The Mediterranean nation and cradle of Democracy hasn’t been a European power for centuries, and their defaulting was part of a sad slippery slope. As Faheed Zaharia pointed out in Time magazine back in July, the US has too many economic advantages —including controlling our own currency and a comparatively healthy trade system— to fail the same way Greece did. The Greek government deserved to fail, but the US government and its international investors alike had too much on the line. The domino effect would’ve been mythological, so to speak.

To reiterate my point: today America dodged a bullet.

Other notes:

+ Fantasy Update: both teams are still hovering around .500. Even though I’ve been bitten by the injury bug on repeat occasions —Brian McCann was my latest victim— so has everyone else, so I can’t really use that as an excuse.

+ Random question of the day: do the people that carry “Impeach Obama” signs on the edge of the highway realize that would make Joe Biden commander-in-chief? You’d think they would plan this type of thing out…

+ Finally, in early July a man in North Carolina recovered the class ring he lost 51 years ago when the girlfriend he gave it to accidentally flushed it down the toilet. No word yet on whether she said “yes” for prom.

1 comment:

  1. LOL:

    -"Beef," "Unsavory"

    Obama + Basketball = yes.

    Nice job overall, Stu.