Normally, I never see the Sunday morning political talk shows. I have other activities I deem more important at that time of the week: sleeping, making coffee, eating breakfast, and getting ready to go to Mass.
But I got up a little early this morning, and had a few minutes, and was burning with curiosity about this “deal” that was supposedly nearing on the debt insanity in Washington.
First thing I saw was Mitch McConnell. I heard him say some standard partisan “Thank God for us Republicans” rhetoric about how far we’d come since April, when the White House simply wanted the debt ceiling raised with no spending cuts.
So he patted himself on the back for that for a moment — apparently in a bid to pull the Tea crazies along, tell them that even if they don’t get the moon the way they want, they’ve gotten a lot, etc.
Then he briefly described the direction in which negotiators were working. The only part that jumped out at me was, “no job-killing tax increases.”
A moment for translation. We of the UnParty just go ahead and say “tax cuts” or “tax increases,” because they hold no deep-seated emotional baggage for us. They are just options, tools, things you might do or not do. To Democrats and Republicans, these things have profound religious significance, and they have ritual words they have to say along with them. For instance, to Democrats there are no such things as mere “tax cuts;” there are only “tax cuts for the rich,” or, if they are inclined to used what they consider to be curse words, “Bush tax cuts.” For Republicans, there are no secular, matter-of-fact references to be made to the expedient of raising taxes. They must say something like “job-killing tax increases.” You must forgive them. They have to do the verbal equivalent of making a face and spitting on the ground on such occasions. They would explode if they didn’t get it out.
Anyway, modifiers aside, I was just hoping he was lying, or misunderstood. Because if that is really what is being discussed, it’s rather disgusting from an UnParty perspective.
Here’s the thing, folks: No sensible person wants to do either — cut spending drastically, or raise taxes — at a moment when the economy seems to be sliding backwards. But we do need to tame the deficit at some point, and there is a gun at our heads to make us do something about it now: Raising the debt ceiling won’t be enough to preserve the nation’s (and South Carolina’s) credit rating. The ratings agencies have to see progress on the deficit. So we need a nice, neutral, everybody-gives-something deal to do that.
But it’s not much of a deal if the Republicans — who hold the House, and therefore bear some responsibility toward the nation rather than the Tea Party — aren’t bringing anything to the table.
I saw a silly movie the other night, “Couples Retreat.” There’s a seen in it in which a guy drops his trousers. Vince Vaughn, not looking, says something like, “Is his junk out?” When the people around him confirm the fact, he adds, “NOW it’s a party!”
I’ve been trying not to watch this stuff myself, in spite of the morbid fascination. But when somebody tells me that both spending cuts and tax increases are hanging out there, I’m going to say, “NOW it’s a deal!”