May 23, 2012


America is not broke — we're the richest country in the history of the world.
But you wouldn't know that if you just listened to House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans in Congress, who are already openly talking about forcing another debt ceiling crisis unless Democrats agree to brutal spending cuts.
The very same politicians who are pleading poverty and yelling the loudest about the need to slash the social safety net are also the ones trying the hardest to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which are set to expire at the end of the year.
Very little so clearly demonstrates the callous venality of some members of Congress as their demand to give the Koch brothers a tax cut while simultaneously pushing benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
While there are certainly Democrats who are bad on this issue, the bigger threat is the response of Democrats as a whole to Republican hostage-taking. Based on past performance, we have reason to be worried.
During last year's debt ceiling crisis, extremist Republicans — many of whom voted for the very tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans and the unfunded wars that caused our budget deficit to explode — were able to use the threat of a government default to hold the entire American economy hostage.
This despite the fact that raising the debt ceiling, while sometimes prompting grandstanding by politicians, had previously been a routine matter.
In addition, the ensuing farce that was the Super Committee negotiations was very telling. Democrats offered up massive concessions, including offering up brutal cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. But Republicans simply would not raise taxes on the wealthy and the ultra-wealthy.
Fortunately, we do not need any affirmative vote to do away with the Bush tax cuts because they were only extended until the end of the year. We just need the Democrats to stand strong.