The debt ceiling fight and Republican credibility

Over at the New York Times, columnist David Brooks argues that the debt ceiling debate calls into question the Republican ability to govern. Agree or not, you can assume that this is the best-read piece in Washington today:

The [GOP] is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.

This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

It’s worth a full reading.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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51 comments Add your comment

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
1:47 pm

That’s right. Make this all a Republican issue despite the following:

Here are Obama’s thoughts on the debt limit in 2006, when he voted against increasing the ceiling:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

I heered he was an Ayrab

July 5th, 2011
1:48 pm

the current republican party practices vuvuzela politics. it is all noise and no substance.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
1:52 pm

“The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.”

Compromise woth President Obama appears to be one-sided in most cases: He get his way and the opposition gets nothing. Obama was not at all interested in compromise or alternative solutions when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

Rethuglicans

July 5th, 2011
1:55 pm

The Republicans have not interest in doing what is right for America, or the American middle class and family. Their only interest lies in the ultra-wealthy donors. Why are they continuing to hold the government and economic future of this country hostage — do they think it is a game? Government and leadership is about compromise, not threats. The Republicans are more interested in taking away funds from the programs like testing our food supply for ecoli, or stripping the SEC budget down to nothing. Their donors are more important than the physical and financial well-being of everyday Americans.

The Snark

July 5th, 2011
2:02 pm

The Republican Party used to stand for responsible governance. Somewhere around 1988, though, they discovered that they could get elected and stay elected with ad campaigns that had nothing to do with governance (e.g., “family values.”) They traded in their governing philosophy for a marketing plan. It works great with people like “Ghost Rider,” who make their decisions based on fear, generalizations,and personal dislikes. But when you have to serve in public office and make decisions that affect the operation of self-government, it doesn’t provide much guidance. Hence, you end up with Republican President George W. Bush giving away billions in borrowed money to buy votes with a Medicaid prescription benefit bill, a tactic one might have expected from the Democrats of the “Great Society” 1960s.

As Republican P. J. O’Rourke once said: “The Republican Party argues that government can’t do anything right, then they get elected and prove it.”

Wilma

July 5th, 2011
2:02 pm

This is most definately not about republican crediblity but about democrat credibility. They have been spending like drunks for years. Obama frittered away $700 billion in stimulus on failed democrat pet projects. He added debt to our national shame at an unprecendented rate. Congressional democrats have not produced a budget in years. Their apparent plan for medicare is to just let it go broke.
No Sir, you partisan nonsense aside, the democrats are embarassingly, shamefully without credibilty

it is what it is and always was

July 5th, 2011
2:06 pm

Ohhh Ghost Rider – 2006 is when Democrats took over, by then Bush had raised the ceiling @ least 14 times. Context is important a fine distinction people find too easy to ignore.

Doug

July 5th, 2011
2:06 pm

It’s getting long past time that the Left Wing of the Right and the Right Wing of the Left get together and form the Reasonable Party. It’s symbol could be a balanced scale, and its members would understand that there are good ideas on the Right and good ideas on the Left and that the best course forward lies somewhere in the middle.

Oh, and let’s change the sympbols for the GOP and the Dems. I’d say an ostrich with its head in the grounp is much more in keeping with both parties’ efforts of late.

Centrist

July 5th, 2011
2:06 pm

Democrats and the media call them “revenue enhancers” because they just can’t say “tax increases”.

Democrats and the media don’t address the NEEDED spending cuts to counter vote buying largess of the past.

Having said that – it is true that TEA party and Republicans don’t want to close many loopholes and subsidies for their favorite constituencies – it is just that the Democratic party affiliated media only focuses on this side.

it is what it is and always was

July 5th, 2011
2:08 pm

NINETEEN TIMES they voted to raise the debt ceiling!! It was raised 5x under Bush. I correct myself.

jconservative

July 5th, 2011
2:11 pm

The last 10 US presidents requested and received a debt ceiling increase.

Either the last 10 US presidents were dead wrong or the current Republican leadership is wrong.
Both cannot be right.

And if the current Republican leadership is correct why did the American voters return 5 of the presidents who were wrong to office for a second term.

The champion? Reagan with 16 debt ceiling increases asked for and received. Of course some increases were the “cute ” kind, good only for a month.

Doug

July 5th, 2011
2:13 pm

@Wilma, I agree that the Dems are without credibility, but who exactly was in charge when the rules that had brought us to nearly zero debt under Clinton and Gingrich were changed? Huge tax cuts for the well-connected without any cuts in the budget and two wars that were considered “off-budget” were not the invention of the Democrats. I’m afraid that “credibility” is not a word that can describe either party, and until they start acting like grownups instead of spoliled little children, it won’t.

Doug

July 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

@jconservative: I hold Reagan as among our best presidents, but that is not based on his ability to walk his talk. So much rehtoric about Washington not living within its means, and yet not once in eight years did he even challenge the status quo by submitting a balanced budget. I think it’s hilarious that it was panty-waist, tree-hugging, hand-wringing, intern-schtupping, weenie linberal Bill Clinton who actually sent some balanced budgets to Congress. The irony of our national perceptions verses Actual Reality never ceases to amaze me.

ByteMe

July 5th, 2011
2:23 pm

Doug has a fine idea about the parties’ symbols. The Democrats should change their symbol to an ostrich with its head in the sand. And the GOP should change their symbol to an ostrich with its head up its a$$.

Rethuglicans

July 5th, 2011
2:29 pm

Wilma
July 5th, 2011
2:02 pm

Pull your head out of the sand Wilma. We used to have a surplus, but then the good ‘ol Bush tax cuts were instituted. Let’s not forget the $1.2 trillion since 2001 spent on wars. And Obama proposes to start cutting the number of troops and it is the conservative war mongers howling…

RetiredSoldier

July 5th, 2011
2:47 pm

“the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party.” Let’s see, in 2010 republicans won the house, picked up senate seats, picked up governorships and won a number of legislatures. Right Brooks, it isn’t a normal party. It is not like a lot of people put faith in what is in the New York Times.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
2:56 pm

it is what it is and always was:

What has changed since Obama’s 2006 statement? What is different today than in 2006? The national debt has only grown tremendously. I agree with Obama when he said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure”.

I also agree with Obama when he said, “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.”

I certainly agre with Obama when he said, “It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … ”

Obama expresses my feelings exactly when he said in 2006, “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
2:58 pm

Rethuglicans:

Do you know the difference between a surplus and the national debt?

ByteMe

July 5th, 2011
3:01 pm

Do you know the difference between a surplus and the national debt?

Ooo, Ooo, Oooo! I know!

A surplus is what you use to pay down your national debt if you don’t instead squander it on unnecessary tax cuts, war, a Medicare drug plan that was a wet kiss for the pharma industry, and bailing out banks that were ignored for 8 years while they gambled with taxpayer money.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
3:06 pm

ByteMe:

The question was for “Rethuglican”, and your answer is non-responsive anyway.

RetiredSoldier

July 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

Rethug-

Can’t let you comment to Wilma pass, cause it just isn’t true. Let’s Look at the “war Situation”. Iraq- Obama following the Bush withdrawal plan. Afgan- Obama doubles down on troops and once he withdraws what he says he’ll withdraw the troop levels will still be higher than when Bush left office. Libya- starts new war, fails to meet the requirements of the War Powers Act, first president to do so. Gitmo- no change in policy. Military tribunials- no change.

Now what was your point?

Rethuglicans

July 5th, 2011
3:18 pm

To Ghost Rider:

Yes I do.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
3:18 pm

RetiredSoldier:

You’re dead on target on all counts.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
3:21 pm

Rethuglicans:

If, as you say, you do understand the difference, your statement makes absolutely no sense.

“Pull your head out of the sand Wilma. We used to have a surplus, but then the good ‘ol Bush tax cuts were instituted. Let’s not forget the $1.2 trillion since 2001 spent on wars.”

Rethuglicans

July 5th, 2011
3:29 pm

RetiredSoldier
July 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

Not sure what your point is. My point is that we have spent $1.2 trillion on wars, adding to our debt. You can start by googling John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s response to Obama’s planned reduction in Afghan troops. As for starting a new war, did Reagan get War Powers from Congress for Operation El Dorado Canyon? Or do you choose to selectively ignore that? Instead of stating that Obama hasn’t changed gitmo or military tribunals, you should be asking why. It’s the obstructionist congressional GOP.

Rethuglicans

July 5th, 2011
3:32 pm

Ghost Rider – you already got your beatdown from ByteMe @ 3:01. Moving on….

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
3:43 pm

The Snark:

” It works great with people like “Ghost Rider,” who make their decisions based on fear, generalizations,and personal dislikes.”

You misjudge me, or perhaps I’m not clear enough. If Obama will take a leadership position and work to actually cut spending, I’ll be singing his praises. I defend no President for adding to the national debt, and abhor the very idea of deficit spending. In short, the time is long past for “politics as usual”. This is where the rubber meets the road. Either we sacrifice the future of America’s citizens for generations or we make the painful adjustments to end the borrowing and to begin paying off of the debt.

Rob Woodall Has Always Gotten His Healthcare for Free (but Paid By You), Yet he wants your grandparents to forgo food to pay out from their fixed income for healthcare

July 5th, 2011
3:45 pm

The Republican party has been co-opted by the lunatic fringe and governing is no longer relevant.

The Tea(baggers) insist on ostracizing responsible public servants, supporting alternative interpretations of American History, and taking obstinate positions on critical financial policy.

When you have a conservative columnist deducing that the Republican party is not fit to govern you know you’ve gone off the rails.

td

July 5th, 2011
4:03 pm

Let us use the 2% plan. Cut 2% per year for the next 5 years from every agency in the federal government and close the borders. When the 5 years are up then we can talk about raising taxes.

Hillary Palin

July 5th, 2011
4:15 pm

The funny thing with the raising taxes: the most criticism and flat-out refusal to raise taxes come from the people that aren’t in that top 1% income bracket. None of those people complain because they know that they have good accountants to get them out of paying any more in taxes.

td, continue being a sycophant for the rich.

Hooker

July 5th, 2011
4:20 pm

Obama’s policies benefit $illionaires !!! Investments .. stock market way up !! you own alot of gold and silver ???? like his golf game.. Obama aims LEFT… hits it RIGHT !!!!

Hooker

July 5th, 2011
4:24 pm

New York Times is Way left wing.. CNN = Communist News Network.. Hard Ball is soft ball for liberals…

RetiredSoldier

July 5th, 2011
4:35 pm

Rethug-

My point is your guy is worse than who you are complaining about, but since it is Obama he can do no wrong. Where are the anti-war protesters? I guess only republicans have bad wars worthy of protesting. You would have some creditability if you are consistent.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
4:43 pm

td:

. . . and those “cuts” must be ACTUAL cuts, and not merely the cutting of built-in annual budget increases!

Doc

July 5th, 2011
4:48 pm

Republican credibility? An oxymoron. They are just plain evil soulless creatures.

Raptor

July 5th, 2011
5:01 pm

“Over at the New York Times,…”

Jim after this line the credibility of everything that followed plummeted to near zero. Is that the best source you can come up with?

The odds of getting an unbiased opinion about the GOP from the NYT are about as good as getting a fair assessment of ACORN from Fox News.

RGB

July 5th, 2011
5:07 pm

The “plain evil soulless creatures” kicked Democrats’ buttocks during the last national elections–or were you not paying attention?

This happened not because Republicans offered anything exceptional, but because of the recklessness of Democrats in the areas of the economy, unemployment, debt, and deficits.

And Democrats’ performance has continued to decline. Today’s installment: $287,000 per “created or saved” job. Pure genius.

Think that’s the stuff presidential re-elections are made of?

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
5:43 pm

RGB:

“Today’s installment: $287,000 per “created or saved” job. Pure genius.”

That is only true IF you believe the figures being touted concerning ‘jobs created or saved’. I don’t think I buy their figures because I’ve heard the wind blow through the trees before.

Purple State

July 5th, 2011
5:44 pm

Brooks is intellectual. He’s even tempered. He’s open to compromise. In short, he has no home in the current Republican party. This article was a long time coming.

Now, if only a few of the actual, power-wielding Republicans will comes to their senses. (not holding breath)

kc

July 5th, 2011
6:31 pm

the bush tax cuts were not paid for, nor part d, nor 2 wars, etc…..
if the dems offer substantive cuts, the repubs need to offer something to especially since their big money donors have skated the last 8 years and more than likely don’t send their kin to war

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
6:45 pm

RetiredSoldier:

“My point is your guy is worse than who you are complaining about”

They just hate it when you nail them with the truth.

The Centrist

July 5th, 2011
6:51 pm

We had the largest tax cuts in the history of the country last decade and we lost jobs. $265 Billion in tax cuts were in the first outlay of the Obama stimulus. What happened to the jobs? 60% of the second outlay went to Republican controlled states. What happened to the jobs? We got the Bush tax cuts extended. What happened to the jobs? Just asking.

Chuck

July 5th, 2011
7:00 pm

I read Brook’s article and can’t say I disagree. His analogy is pretty true about the 1 inch of tax increases for 1 yard of spending cuts still being voted down by Republican’ts.

And Ghost Rider, do you think Obama would have let the country default in 2006 just to make a point? Well you probably do [wrongly] think that and that is exactly the idiotic thought process of the House today.

Alabama Communist

July 5th, 2011
7:16 pm

Who really cares anymore? Both Parties are owned lock, stock and barrel by the Corporate Orwellian World and they couldn’t care less about the masses… You Tea Party Republicans are procreated just like the people……..Get out of Dodge you phony Patriots, Chaos, Disorder is coming big time to the USA and your Police State can’t save it………

Frederick Douglass

July 5th, 2011
7:24 pm

Ghost Rider @ 1:47,

Why’s it kosher to complain about something Obama said or did in 2006 when he wasn’t president, and strictly hands off to criticize the decisions of the guy that was president from 2000-2008?

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
7:32 pm

Chuck:

“And Ghost Rider, do you think Obama would have let the country default in 2006 just to make a point?”

I will ask you the same questions I asked “Rethuglican”. What has changed since Obama’s 2006 statement? What is different today than in 2006? The national debt has only grown tremendously.

It was Obama himself who said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Is Obama guilty of “leadership failure”? Was he correct when he said, “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

I believe he was correct in 2006, and I think the same statements are applicable in 2011. I also believe him correct when he said, “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.” If that was true for GWB then, is it not also true for Obama now?

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
7:34 pm

Frederick Douglass:

Sir, please read my 3:43 pm post.

Ghost Rider

July 5th, 2011
7:41 pm

Chuck:

“And Ghost Rider, do you think Obama would have let the country default in 2006 just to make a point?”

I realized that I had not addressed this question. Yes, I believe he, as well as most politicians, would have allowed default if it served their political interests to do so.

Default is not really the issue here. The issue is whether sufficient cuts will be made in spending to allow the debt service payment. I frankly have very little hope that will happen since the politicians (including Obama) are always taking care of job # 1, which is being re-elected.

Winfield J. Abbe

July 5th, 2011
9:52 pm

Who really believes all these scare and fear lies about government coming to an end if the debt limit is not raised? Think about it. Who or what is going to force our bloated and reckless government to end any program? No one that is who.

If they have to just to look good, a lawyer for the government will go to a federal judge and obtain approval to continue to spend and spend and spend, as business as usual, on all the nonsense they have been squandering money on. All they have to do is claim everything is necessary for national security.

Who in their right mind thinks our govenment will suddenly end the welfare checks at home in favor of the wars and foreign aid abroad? Do you believe in the tooth fairy? We would have anarchy in the streets and any idiot could predict that outcome.

Suppose interest rates did rise a little upon failing to increase the debt limit. Would that be such a bad thing? Senior citizens have been shafted out of their life savings for years now due to artificially low interest rates, running almost zero percent right now. These are fixed rates, fixed by the corrupt, secret Federal Reserve Bank, not any free market rates. Our country has degenerated into a virtual Communist cesspool in case some of you were not paying attention from the fixed football game you were entertained by. America is bankrupt in more ways than one.

Booger Fling

July 6th, 2011
8:50 am

The columnist has a good point here. Yet there is no mention of Democrats and their scary similarities to the Republicans.

Our rights and wellbeing are being destroyed by BOTH parties. Hit pieces like this do exactly what they intend. By keeping America divided they shift the debate in the country. Instead of going after a corrupt government as one nation we sit on the sidelines debating each other over what party is best.

If this continues and people don’t wake up, we will continue to be victims of our own stupidity.