This is a time for moderation and careful, forward looking budget management. Instead, we are about to gut federal spending. The cost is going to be a return to severe economic recession. Everybody in politics knows this perfectly well, and so do economists left, right and center. Indeed, agreement is practically unanimous. Except it’s not what you hear on talk radio. Far from it.
It is being done, essentially, by the far right, and its purpose is to create enough disgruntled voters to insure their election in 2012. Will it work for them? Certainly, a lot more people will be out of work by next November. But I suspect that they will understand why very clearly. During the Bush Administration, the right never once protested an increase in the debt ceiling. Dick Cheney even said that debt didn’t matter. But now it does? I do hope that this level of cynicism is not lost on the American people.
As a moderate, I am not a fan of extremes. I do understand why people embrace them, though. They do so out of frustration and anger and desperation. It’s why the Russians ended up captured by Bolshevism. It’s why the Nazis got enough traction to gain power. But, you’ll notice, in neither case did the extremists gain power by popular vote. Neither party, prior to gaining power, had more than 20% of popular support. The Bolsheviks and the Nazis both stole power, and in the end ruined their countries. Now the Tea Party, with a minority in congress, virtually no representation in the senate, and a following of under 20% of the population, controls the federal government. And that is an accurate statement. Were it not for them, the debt ceiling issue would never even have been linked to debate on larger budget questions.
I do not like extremes. They do not help us. Their 20th Century track record is abysmal, and if we continue to be drawn to extremes in the 21st Century, the result will be the same. Both moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans have a great deal of value to offer our country. The far left and the far right should be left far behind.