07-22-2011 by Linda S. Carbonell
Yesterday’s “volcanic” response to the latest debt/deficit deal proposal was a case of the President not having been in Washington long enough to understand what it means when Republicans promise to do something next year. They won’t. It’s as simple as that. Anyone who believes that a promise of future action from a Republican will be honored, whether it’s a promise to vote on an amendment or to reform the tax code, should talk to Sen. Olympia Snowe.
In the two years after 9-11 there was so much legislation flying around that it’s hard to fix a name to some of the overlapping stuff passed by the Republican House and Senate. In the midst of this deluge of hyper-patriotism, Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota sponsored a bill that would have barred companies that used tax shelters from getting Homeland Security and/or Patriot Act contracts. The bill to create the Department of Homeland Security was being voted on just before the Christmas recess and the sole Republican hold-out in the Senate was Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. Her vote was needed for passage. Wellstone had died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002, and Snowe was carrying his torch. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, promised Snowe that, if she would vote for the Homeland Security Act, he would reintroduce the Wellstone Amendment after Christmas. The vote was taken, and Mrs. Snowe left her Senate office to go home for the holidays. Before she had even reached her car, Lott was speaking with reporters and, when asked about the bargain struck with Snowe, he tried to play dumb. Would have worked too, if he’d been a good enough actor to avoid gloating. The trillions of dollars that have been spent on the Patriot Act, Homeland Security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone to companies with “corporate headquarters” in mailboxes in tax shelter countries because Sen. Snowe believed a promise for future action. (My apologies for confusing the three bills in previous stories. I watched the press conference live and, frankly, my memory’s good but it was 9 year ago.)
A promise of future action is worthless when it comes out of Republicans. They are not dealing honestly or fairly in any of this. They have decided that the threat of imminent collapse of the world’s economy by not raising the debt ceiling is a good bargaining strategy for their plan to privatize America. They have already lost. Every day more Americans understand the stakes here, and every day more of the Republicans major donors have come out and told them to get off the pot and pass the debt ceiling.
Today is the day that a bill needs to be decided upon so that all the mechanisms needed to auction the necessary bonds by August 2 can proceed. Today is the day when Mitch McConnell and John Boehner need to grow some balls and tell their caucuses that sacrificing the nation for the sake of the next election is going to cause the death of the Republican Party. Today is the day for a clean debt ceiling bill, no strings attached. The debt and the deficit and the budgets can be dealt with next week or next month. They should not be tied to keeping our nation from defaulting or from denying vitally necessary subsistence incomes to the disabled, the retired, the unemployed.
Tacitus wrote “He that fights and runs away, may turn and fight another day; but he that is in battle slain, will never rise to fight again.” Letting this nation go into default while trying to strike a bargain for something that dozens of people have been working on for two years is choosing to die in battle. Regrettably, it’s not just the Republican Party that will die.