Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Sad Sad Nature of the Debt Ceiling Debate

This is a truly sad time to be an American.  One cannot help but watch the current squabbles over the funding of the government and the debt ceiling without feeling both helpless and deeply disturbed.  A few of the more disturbing points to me are:

  1. We are, at this point, mostly fighting over issues that don't matter on the budget side.  As near as I can tell, the budget debate boils down to a fight over the ACA medical device tax which is irrelevant from a budgetary perspective and a debate over whether we will spend less than $10 billion (or 0.3%) more or less in terms of the sequester caps.
  2. The "settled law" and various other stand on principal points are falling apart.  The death knell here was when the Senate refused to consider the Collins/Manchin bill because it "extended the BCA caps for too long."  But of course, the BCA is settled law every bit as much as the ACA is.  Neither side is fighting for a principal here, naked political power is all there is.
  3. The debt ceiling itself is awful and untouchable.  We are debating the length of a debt ceiling extension when pretty much everyone, at least on the Democratic side, believes the debt ceiling is stupid.  Where's the proposal to eliminate the debt ceiling entirely?  Well, it turns out Americans like the debt ceiling so we avoid doing the right thing in order to do the stupid thing.
I have no doubt that eventually we will sort this out in a way that kicks the can a little bit down the road, poisons the process further, and reveals how devoid of principle the entire process is.

It's simply sad to have to watch it.

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