The Washington Post

Just hit my debt-limit limit

I can’t take it anymore. I’ve hit my debt-limit limit. If I see one more headline screaming Debt Talks Collapse I’m going to leave the country, and move somewhere with a sounder fiscal environment, such as Europe. Some nice Greek island where no one has a care in the world.

[Look, I’m willing to make sacrifices, personally, to get a deal done for the good of the nation. I will make painful cuts in spending. Already I am thinking of cutting down on the condiments. Do I need four kinds of mustard? Six kinds of hot sauce? Horseradish? I will start drinking wine out of a box (just to be clear, the wine is what is in the box; I am not in the box).]

This debt-ceiling negotiation has been going on for months now, and it doesn’t seem that we’re very close to a resolution. Of course, that could change in the next 5 minutes. We could have a deal. But then the deal would fall apart, surely, inevitably, because of the simple fact that many people in Congress, particularly in the GOP, do not want a deal of any kind — they want a political victory. They want to be able to say: I stood firm.

The president now knows that the Republican rank-and-file will oppose any deal that he supports or even tolerates. The tea party would oppose Obama if he endorsed motherhood.

At this point, Sen. Reid is advancing a plan that cuts trillions in spending and does not contain any new taxes. Yes, that’s the DEMOCRATIC plan. But the Republicans aren’t satisfied. They want a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, plus a chance to have this same debate next year (because it’s been so much fun this time!) . Good thing FDR didn’t have to cope with a balanced budget amendment during WW2 (though presumably the amendment would make an exception for wars overseen by presidents with “jaunty” cigarette holders). And the very same Republicans wouldn’t have liked a constitutional amendment when they voted in the past decade for the Bush tax cuts, two overseas wars and Medicare Part D — none of which was paid for with either new revenues or lower spending (“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” Dick Cheney famously said).

Americans didn’t vote for dysfunctional government, the president said last night. Is he sure about that?

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."


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