Sunday, August 7, 2011

The results of the hostage crisis

S & P just downgraded US creditworthiness--because of the irrationality of Congress. The result of all that hostage taking in Congress is going to be ongoing debt and higher costs. Because, as Sen. Mitch McConnell said, they will do it again.

Steve Benen remarks:
This wasn’t just another partisan dispute; it was a scandal for the ages. It’s the kind of thing that should scar the Republican Party for many years to come.

Indeed, consider the apparent consequences. This one radical scheme has helped lead to the first-ever downgrade of U.S. debt; it has riled financial markets and generated widespread uncertainty about the stability of the American system; and it has severely undermined American credibility on the global stage.

Continuing in the reality-driven world of sober adults, Tom Friedman in the NY Times explains,
Our slow decline is a product of two inter-related problems. First, we’ve let our five basic pillars of growth erode since the end of the cold war — education, infrastructure, immigration of high-I.Q. innovators and entrepreneurs, rules to incentivize risk-taking and start-ups, and government-funded research to spur science and technology.

…For us to effectively compete…required studying harder, investing wiser, innovating faster, upgrading our infrastructure quicker and working smarter.

Instead of doing that at the scale we needed — that is, building muscle — we injected ourselves with massive amounts of credit steroids…

There is no easy, one-policy fix. We need to help people deleverage, cut some spending, raise some revenues and reinvest in our growth engines — as an integrated strategy for national renewal. Something this big and complex cannot be accomplished by one party alone. It will require the kind of collective action usually reserved for national emergencies. The sooner we pull together the better.
But I'm not hopeful, based on what just happened. In fact, I am sadly confident that the Republicans in Congress are incapable of responding appropriately. Indeed, they thrive on ignorance.

People voted for these bozos. It's ultimately the voters' fault. This is what we get now, if you vote for anyone with an "R" after his name.   It's a shameful decline of  a political party. And craven as the Democrats are, I don't see how they could have negotiated more effectively, when the opposition was fully prepared to pull the trigger.
Image from MoveOn


JCF said...


dr.primrose said...

"People voted for these bozos. It's ultimately the voters' fault."

At one level, I disagee with that. In many ways, it's not the fault of the voters; it's the fault of the non-voters.

The voter turn-out in this country is abysmal. Way too many people are too lazy and inattentive to vote. In California, part of the problem is that we have way, way, way too many elections. There are at least two every year. For the off-off-off elections, the percentage of people that vote is in the single digits. And nasty people take advantage of that.

The election, for example that enabled the officials in the City of Bell to grossly enrich themselves was the election in which the residents were asked to vote on whether the city should become a "charter" city rather than a "general law" city. Officials in a "charter" city in California have much more freedom to do things without the restrictions of state law. About 300 people in a city of 35,000 voted in that election. The officials put that vote in an off-off-off election precisely because people don't vote in those elections. Bottom line -- always vote in every election. This is particuarly true in California because in almost every election there's some proposition in which a moneyed, powered, often reactionary group in get something that goes into their bank account and royally screws everyone else.

I also get quite PO'd at people who don't vote because the Messiah isn't on the ballot. I have many issues with Obama. But the choice next year is going to be between him and Perry/Bachman/Romney. That's a big, big difference. If people stay home because they don't like some things that Obama did, they are in reality voting for Perry/Bachman/Romney. That's idiotic. There is no greater enemy of the good than the insistence on perfection. People who insist on Obama being perfect are going to get Michelle Bachman as president (and her charming husband as first lady) and the tea-party running congress.

dr.primrose said...

Sorry, the last sentence in the second paragraph above should have been: "This is particuarly true in California because in almost every election there's some proposition in which a moneyed, powerful, often reactionary group is trying to get something that goes into their bank account and royally screws everyone else."

JCF said...

I think it's a Both/And, dr p.

Way too many "Obama Voters" stayed home in 2010 (as way too many Clinton Voters stayed home in 1994). But there ARE also Obama Voters who then voted for the Tea Party in 2010. That's just plain batsh*t crazy! [As is "Vote the bums out!" cynicism...though I suspect more w/ that (crazy) sentiment don't actually vote, either.]

There are policies that work (Keynsian macro-economics, for example), and those that don't. Until people learn to vote for POLICY, not personality, we're going to get these dumb@ss "wave" elections. [And "Golden Rule" social morality, as opposed to wingnut judgmentalism, too]

IT said...

It is the voters' fault--whether they voted or not. I agree that too many people don't vote. And also, too many of those who do, can't be bothered to engage their brains.Regardless, it remains that the people who bothered to vote, voted the crazies in.

It is also a continuing amazement to me that the right wing succeeds in persuading voters to vote against their own economic and social interests, entirely based on some tribalist identity.

dr.primrose said...

One of the better commentaries on the S&P downgrading is this one from Time -- Why Congress and S&P Deserve Each Other. It begins (and I truly love the opening sentence):

"Having Standard & Poor's downgrade the creditworthiness of the U.S., and warn the country about further downgrades, is a little like having the Catholic Church lecture Scout leaders on the proper behavior toward boys. The moral authority seems to be wanting. S&P, you may recall, is one of the ratings agencies (the others being Moody's and Fitch) that greased the skids of the financial crisis by awarding AAA ratings to tranche after tranche of mortgage bonds called collaterized debt obligations, or CDOs. Recall that, unlike U.S. Treasuries, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S., CDOs were underwritten by garbage mortgages — that is, backed by no-documentation “liar loans” and other Alt-A subprime pond scum handed to borrowers who otherwise couldn't get a nickel's worth of credit at their local dry cleaner."