Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I think the debt ceiling debate is about teabaggRs trying to get the Ds to do their work for them, and to take the heat. It's a game of chicken in more ways than one.

As Rs threaten to bring down the government if Ds don't come up with spending cuts, some have noticed that those same Rs aren't really sticking their necks out (other than spending for  Hurricane Sandy relief!) and saying what they think should be cut. Rs, simply said, are trying to have it both ways. They want spending cuts but don't want to bear the electoral consequences. Because, as everyone knows (even teabaggers can read certain tea leaves), people like the idea of reducing the size of government until it comes to reducing the size of government.

But, of course, as Rs demand Ds come up with cuts, they glide past the fact that since it's they who want the cuts, they are obliged to propose them. It's not that Obama hasn't said he agrees that spending cuts are needed; he has. But he and Ds, believe spending must be retained for things essential to our future, and that increasing revenue beyond what Rs want is a necessary part of the equation. So, it seems to me, since Rs are the ones pounding the drums for cuts over revenue, it should be incumbent upon them to provide specifics. That they don't, and won't, is revelatory of their cynicism. Not even Paul Ryan was willing to specify, preferring to propose magic and extraplanetary math instead. Leadership? Yeah. Right.

I'm glad that President Obama, so far anyhow, has refused to play their game of hostage-taking. I hope -- but am not sure -- he doesn't cave on that. But I think he should go one step further: in addition to refusing to use the debt ceiling, poorly understood as it is, as a negotiating tool, he should pressure Rs to put up specific plans for spending cuts. They're the ones taking revenue off the table. They should let people know how they think it can be done.

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