So Far, So Good

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

The way the story goes, a man fell off the observation deck of a 50-story skyscraper. Each time he passed another floor he reassured himself, “So far, so good.” That would make a great campaign slogan for the national Republican Party, heading into the 2012 elections.

If I were a Democrat I’d be licking my chops at the prospect of seeing the GOP land with a splat on Nov. 6, 2012.

Wait a minute. I am a Democrat. Why am I not rejoicing at the sight of the meanest, most arrogant, most tone deaf, and arguably the most stupid political machine in the history of this planet — and probably those we have yet to discover and try to colonize — disobeying one of the few laws working against them that they can’t possibly repeal? A falling body picks up speed at the rate of 32 feet per second each second it falls. (This is a bit simplistic, but close enough. For a fuller discussion, look here.)

Perhaps the Republican leadership thinks the laws of gravity are a mere theory, like evolution. Doesn’t matter. The result when they hit bottom will be the same.

Or maybe they think no law, natural or of human origin, applies to them unless they want it to. Or maybe it’s that they think Citizens United, brought forth by their five patrons on the Supreme Court, is actually a pocket full of kryptonite.  The GOPers — at least those who aren’t hiding under their office desks these days — are acting as though they’re invincible.

Somewhere there is a Republican party volunteer folding fundraising letters in a county storefront headquarters at this moment, who knows better, who knows that money is not a mythical metal, and that Barack Obama isn’t Superman, anyway.

Do you remember when Congress got back from Easter recess, the Republicans with a major case of heartburn caused by the singeing they got from their constituents over the Ryan budget plan and what it intends to do to Medicare? Do you remember the two House Republicans, Ryan and Cantor, saying they’d give up on “saving” Medicare for now, and let 2012 be a referendum on what to do about it?

If you were a rational Republican legislator, wouldn’t you have got the message back home that the people who put you in office are more interested in jobs than stripping out of the federal budget anything that might make life a bit easier for people who don’t have one? Wouldn’t you discern that folks don’t want you using the debt limit as a bargaining chip in your quest to destroy everything that is good and kind and, dare I say it, loving about American society?

Sure, you would. But the rational Republican legislators, the ones who know they’re not invincible, are in a state of paralysis. Or denial. Whichever. But except for a small and growing smaller number of GOP congress members, even the rational Republicans are moving at 32 feet per second squared. Downward.

What else can you make of the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, telling the Economic Club of New York, exactly what no one on Wall Street wanted to hear.

I know there are many in this room who are uneasy with this debate. I understand your concerns.

It’s true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process.

To increase the debt limit without simultaneously addressing the drivers of our debt — in defiance of the will of our people — would be monumentally arrogant and massively irresponsible….

So let me be as clear as I can be. Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.

We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.

They should be actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future.

And with the exception of tax hikes — which will destroy jobs — everything is on the table.

Boehner’s speech went over so well with the Wall Street crowd that the Dow dropped today by 130 points. What a vote of confidence that is.

If John Boehner thinks the American people want him to force the US to default on its loans, and in the process shut down the government (because there will be no money to pay for it) then he’s clinically delusional and needs help. If he thinks the American people are opposed to increasing taxes on the really rich, and doing away with subsidies to corporations that are running at a profit without government help, he needs a caretaker. Some 70% of Americans oppose what the Republican leaders are trying to do.  Even a majority of rank and file Republicans are comfortable with the idea of raising taxes.

Far be it from me to tell the Republicans what they need to do to salvage their majority in the House next year. That’s the only even remotely reasonable goal they might aspire to. Redrawing congressional districts may help them there. But there’s no redistricting in the Senate. And look at their list of possible presidential candidates and try not to laugh.

The only way the Republican Party can do anything but crash and burn in 2012 is if the American People that Boehner thinks he’s channeling come down with a case of the terminal stupids. And I don’t think all the money Citizens United can throw the Republicans’ way will make that happen.

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