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August 5, 2011

Compromise Pleases Few

Roy Meachum

Easily, the only thrill of the dreary, repetitive debt ceiling debate this week Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Gifford presented. The almost killed congresswoman left her Houston rehabilitation hospital room to vote to end the stalemate that posed the possibility of the government reneging on debts due.


Because of Ms. Gifford’s heroic perseverance, troops, Social Security pensioners and Medicare’s network of caregivers will continue to be funded. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett joined her for the same reason; as he explained to his generally conservative constituency, including members of a strong Tea Party faction. Little else was accomplished, we heard in subsequent days, after the Senate endorsed the House’s version. Barack Obama’s signature seemed a proper afterthought.


Yet, a good friend in Frederick cussed the president, blaming him for the crisis. When I pointed out the realistic facts about our sad economic condition, he turned his glare on Libya, which the White House joined under pressure from the United States’ closest allies, France and Great Britain.


A congressional survey revealed the deal passed Monday with 44 Republican votes fewer than last Friday’s “final” compromise; among declared members of the Tea Party, 21 declined to see the government shut down. Nineteen GOP House freshmen deserted right wing zealots when push really came to shove.


Capitol Hill Democrats racked up 188 in total agreement with the a-week-ago motion; the number split exactly in half at the last moment. The party’s freshmen abandoned their blanket veto going into the weekend; one refused, but nine accepted the agreement that the president signed into law Tuesday, the day that under the previous statute federal money ran out. Progressives joined the freshmen before Monday; 11 out of 69 accepted what they had no power of defeating.


Leaders of all Washington factions came under intense heat from the right and left. Democrats resented the minimum taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations that pay little or nothing to the IRS. Despite the threat to the sagging national recovery, Republicans wanted severe cuts aimed squarely at health care and other “entitlements” that men and women pay for and ensures the nation’s future collapse; the GOP seems intent, to the nation’s left wing, to “rush in” while it favors a slower pace that will not disturb the recovery.


Showing little taste, Wall Street and the world has spit on the compromise; New York’s stock markets swooped dramatically. Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin dismissed this country as a “parasite living on the global economy.” That smarts, even from an enemy of free enterprise, a system that dominates this country. Other nations were little less cruel, including China that holds about $2 trillion of Washington I.O.U.’s.


It now does not matter how the United States got into this terrible shape that we are now in. The time for blame and recriminations is past. Playing politics becomes no one, of whatever partisan flavor. The nation’s energy must be entirely focused on solutions.


Rising out of her sick bed, Rep. Gabrielle Gifford did her part.


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