Archive for Debt Ceiling

The Twenty Four Billion Dollar Fiasco!

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on October 17, 2013 by playthell
Boehner John Republican Caucus Boehner’s Republican Caucus is a Hot Mess

 The Cost of Governing by Crisis

Although the nation narrowly averted a catastrophe last night when the Congress passed a bill to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, thereby saving the nation from financial ruin, it was a very costly fiasco.  The credit rating agency Standard and Poors have calculated the cost of the government shutdown and near default; we lost 24 billion dollars out of the American economy and reduced economic growth by one percent!   This money could have been put to use refurbishing the US infrastructure, or providing research funds for President Obama’s alternative energy project, or much needed improvements to the nation’s schools, to name a few.

It is doubtful whether the Tea Party fanatics will be chastened by this boondoggle.  If the comments of Texas Senator Ted Cruse – a shameless, reckless, charlatan – is any indication these arrogant ignorant churls have learned nothing.  Hence we will be confronted with a similar Scenario shortly after the New Year begins, since this budgetary fix only extends to February.  A lot can happen to alter the picture by then, but the way it looks right now we are headed back into the same quagmire from which we barely escaped.

Despite the fact that President Obama confidently assured us this kind of crisis would not happen in the future at the conclusion of his press conference announcing the end of the present dust up with the Grand obstructionist Party, events may prove his assessment a bit too optimistic.  Trying to reason with these people is like attempting to negotiate with suicide bombers, because in their twisted minds there is no positive role for government to play beyond police functions and the maintaining the military.

It is a backward view of the role of government that can only impress anarchists and numb skulls. If we look at the anti-government fanatics in the GOP we find an abundance of impassioned but clueless ideologues, and among these are people who are convinced that life will be just fine without a well-functioning government. It is a puzzling phenomenon, especially if you have flown across this country from coast to coast as I just did twice.

From my window seat I marveled at the size and complexity of this great nation: the many miles of highways, the railroads, the great cities and suburbs, the forest and rivers, the towns high in the mountains, the enormous amounts energy required to fuel this massive economy, the millions of gas guzzling cars and trucks, the many farms required to feed this nation, the massive factories that dot the landscape, etc.  It takes a special species of fool not to recognize that such a vast continental nation needs a massive federal government to manage its affairs.

One needs only look at the chaos in the little agrarian nation of Somali in order to recognize the importance of a strong central government.  And I suggest that those Republicans who wish to live in a country with no government should emigrate there, just as Somalis who wish to live in a country with a strong government routinely immigrate here.  But the truth is that all these people love government when they benefit from it by getting funding for their pet projects.  None of them are willing to lead a fight to close a military base in their district, or to end farm subsidies if they are from an agricultural state.   and none dare mention reducing social security, veterans or Medicare benefits.

The best example of this hypocrisy is the “sweetener” in the bill just cobbled together by Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.  Even as old Mitch was making an emotional speech against government spending he had attached a multi-billion dollar allocation for his state – an act of shameful duplicity.  Yet it serves to demonstrate the indispensable role of federal funding to the well-being of the states and exposes the folly of the anti-government rhetoric and actions of the political incompetents in Grand Obstructionist Party.

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s early show Morning Joe and the model of a “reasonable,” Republican, seemed genuinely shocked to learn that the bi-partisan bill hammered out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that saved the nation from default, and the myriad calamities that would have spawned, contains a 2.5 billion dollar allocation for a river dam’s project in Kentucky.

The fact that this project is located in McConnell’s home state raises eyebrows among observers of Republican politics, and the hackles of Republican politicians who just shut down the federal government in a protest against government spending.  Already McConnell’s adversaries in the Tea Party are sharpening their axes in preparation for his beheading, and it serves the hypocritical rascal right!

A Scurrilous Scoundrel
Mitch McConnell

Caught with his hand in the Pork Barrel!

 Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
October 17, 2013

On The Great American Debate

Posted in Guest Commentators with tags , , , on August 4, 2011 by playthell

A Man of Reason and Vision

 There has been much criticism of the President and his Democratic colleagues in Congress with respect to their handling of the contrived “Debt Ceiling Crisis” and the bill that was signed into law this week.  At the end of the day this is a terrible piece of legislation, about which Republican Speaker Boehner (with a Cheshire cat smile) says, “I got 98% of what I wanted and yes I’m happy.”

Well in my opinion this is a treatment that does not save the patient, it just changes the cause of death and puts patient on a respirator that will keep him alive for a little while longer.  Thus one could credibly argue that the cure is worse than the disease!  The immediate cuts combined with the additional cuts that will surely be triggered when the “Super Committee” fails to come up with a compromise will have a devastating effect on job growth and the economy in general.

It should be clear that the Republican appointees on this committee will remain committed to their intransient position that their can be no new tax revenue generated as part of the solution to our financial problems, and without new revenue the problem simply cannot be solved.  I am mystified that we, the people of this great nation, can be so misinformed that so many subscribe to policies which are against their best interests.

Fueled on the one hand by the outright lies told on Fox News by a cabal of right wing media pundits that fuel the most primal fears of a poor and largely undereducated class of white Americans, and on the other hand by a national media that in an effort to appear unbiased couches this debate as a disagreement by two sides that care equally about America but are guided by differing philosophies and policies.  And thus all of problems would be solved if they just compromised.

Neither is true.  Our national problems are systemic and have been exacerbated by Republican policies that have caused and made worse our current crisis.  Systemic because the capitalist market economy, which is multi-national cannot, left to its own devises, cure our national financial or social woes.  It is a system fueled by greed, by a necessity to get “more” or fail.  And if “more” requires outsourcing labor or accepting trade relationships that injures American workers and the American economy so be it, as long as stockholders and CEOs get theirs. Alas, growth just for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell and will eventually destroy our body politic.

During the Bush administration we were inflicted with a President that appeared to me to “play fool fe catch wise,” as the Jamaican folk saying goes, oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.  Every policy, but specifically two wars, financial deregulation and a tax cut for the wealthiest led to a disparity between classes that had never been seen before in world history!

The flaw in their thinking was their failure to realize it is the spending patterns of the middle class/working class that fuels the economy and if this class is underemployed and unable to spend, the rest of the economy contracts and no amount of tax cuts to the wealthy will stimulate growth if products are sitting on the shelf.  It is not the “uncertainty of the market” that precludes investment it is the lack of demand.  And since we have truly become a global economy American labor’s only move is to join forces with labor globally – to become “international” in more than name – because as long as there is an exploited working class anywhere in the world capable of providing cheap labor, American business will move its jobs there. Here is the proof of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite adage “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere!”

Business cannot restrain itself.  Whether manufacturing or financial they will always make decisions based on their responsibility to their stockholders and the greed of their executives – the laws governing fiduciary relations make it illegal for them to do otherwise.   Because of the amoral Darwinian nature of the marketplace multi-national corporations cannot be concerned with the national good and that is why we need government.  Herein lay the essence of the great debate.  Although disguised as policy differences, the central dispute in this debate between Democrats and Republicans is the true role of government.

Republicans would have us believe that government, with its interference and regulations, are the problem.  They make this point make by endlessly reciting Ronald Reagan’s simple minded slogan “Government is the Problem.” They insist that if we give tax cuts to the “job creators” and get rid of unnecessary regulations, this would empower them to fix the economy and we will sail into a new era of prosperity and the “American Dream” will once again be on track.  For reasons already stated this is a fallacy and one that the history of such policies going back to Ronald Reagan has already exposed.

Government must be proactive, it must regulate, and it must redistribute the wealth of this nation in ways that our continuing social evolution.  It must embrace policies that protect the average citizen providing education, healthcare, social security, infrastructure, it must support scientific and technological advancement in energy, medicine and other areas; and it must do so free of the constraining effect of the millions spent by lobbyists in Washington each year, money that although spent with both parties have dominated and directed the actions of the Republican Party to the detriment of our nation.

 A Corporate Shill Posing as a Representative of the People

Congressman Jack Ryan

The Democrats with a clearly superior philosophy have failed to implement their policies effectively.  In nearly every negotiation that has taken place during this administration the Republicans have come out on top.  Bohener’s comment that he got 98% of what he wanted is quite telling and the fact that he had the gall to verbalize the completeness of his victory speaks to his utter disdain for his Democratic counterparts including the President.  The President and the Democratic representatives in Congress have labored under the miscalculation that the Republicans were negotiating in good faith.  They believed there would be some level of compromise in forging a solution to America’s problems.  Well 98% is not a compromise it is an ass whipping!

The Republicans, in their reckless regard for the stability of our nation, stand fast in implementing their agenda.  They refuse to compromise on any level urged on by a Tea Party constituency that were prepared to drive the national and global economy off a cliff.  It is hard to play chicken when the other side has no fear of death or perhaps no understanding of the financial catastrophe that was looming.

They were buoyed by an implied “mandate” from an abysmally ignorant American electorate that sent these Tea Party candidates to Washington, giving the Republicans a majority in The House and the ability to create endless chaos.  Even now a large segment of the American electorate seems ambivalent about facts that should be obvious to all.   Instead of rebelling against those whose policies still have us perched on the brink of disaster, they show only a general dissatisfaction with Washington and “politicians.”

I see no chance that anything will change in the next year prior to the 2012 elections.  No significant legislation capable of dealing with the problems that face all Americans will be able to pass through Congress.  Unemployment will continue to rise and our financial crisis will broaden.  Our social programs will be challenged and our preparedness for the future will be stymied.  All while we continue to take “popularity polls” and spread the blame around.

Many critics argue that the Democrats could have done a better job.  They point out that when the tax breaks were scheduled to expire last year they should have tied an increase of the Debt Ceiling by making it a condition of extending the Bush Tax cuts.  Without that threat they had no leverage against Republican demands.  .  However this critique overlooks a critical point regarding the tax extension: the Republicans were going to end unemployment compensation for a couple of million Americans who were depending upon those payments for mere survival!  That was the choice and, as always, Barack did the responsible and humane thing.

However I believe the Democrats should have put their political fears for re-election to the side prior to the 2010 elections and utilized their majority in both houses of Congress to push through legislation that would have established the Democratic agenda and voted a stimulus package that could have actually stimulated the economy and job markets.  Instead they sought to protect their jobs, and in the end they lost anyway in the next election due to a misguided decision by disgruntled Democrats and apathetic youths to sit out the election or oppose some of the “Blue Dogs.”   Presumably the chaos which has followed the mid-term elections will convince them of the folly of that strategy!

So now we are left with a “98%” Republican victory and very little chance of implementing policies that might be effective in dealing with the crisis that still threatens America.  We have in fact “kicked the can down the road” and our next opportunity to pick it up will be the 2012 elections, when the American people will have the opportunity to re-elect Barrack Obama and establish a filibuster proof Democratic majority in both houses.  Only then will we be on the real road to recovery.


By: Kwaku Leon Saunders – A concerned citizen /businessman

Atlanta Georgia

August 4, 2011