Our political Quote of the Day comes from The Daily Beast’s John Avlon, who details the hypocrisy of Speaker of the House John Boehner against the backdrop of Boehner’s televised speech that countered President Barack Obama last night. Here are some key parts of his piece (go to the link and read it all):
This is starting to give Kabuki theater a bad name. The competing congressional debt ceiling plans presented at grimly choreographed press conferences. Bipartisan language used to fig leaf nakedly partisan bills. Last night’s dueling primetime speeches by Obama and Boehner, offered as the clock ticks closer to default with no constructive compromise in sight.
The markets still seem to be in denial about the growing prospect that America might fail to raise the debt ceiling for the first time in our history. They are assuming rationality from an ideology-first crowd in congress. But make no mistake: we are heading into unprecedented territory.
This is a political crisis manifesting itself as a fiscal crisis. Deficit reduction is no longer the real goal. Principled differences have been abandoned. Instead, there is just the struggle to survive politically without taking the nation off a cliff. It is a failure of divided government, and that’s why the two prime time speeches last night offered a preview of campaign 2012.
He gives his take on Obama’s speech, Boehner’s, and then looks at the Tea Party conservatives, what they sought and what they are now rejecting.
And here are the “nut graphs” for our Quote of the Day:
The irony is that Tea Partiers who sincerely campaigned on reducing the deficit and the debt have succeeded in largely preserving the status quo because they refused to any revenue increases attained through closing the loopholes that function as earmarks in the tax code. This misplaced sense of priorities at a pivotal negotiation period will cost the nation in the future. All-or-nothing usually leads to nothing.
As you watch this drama play out over the next seven days, don’t forget that this is an entirely forced fire-drill. The debt ceiling has been raised more or less automatically in the past—77 times since JFK, including 18 times under Ronald Reagan and 7 times under George W. Bush. Republicans were not rushing to the ramparts then — consistent with their heightened concern over deficits that comes only when Democrats are in the White House.
Not that there hasn’t been plenty of partisan hypocrisy to go around. Then-Senator Obama famously voted against raising the debt ceiling when President Bush was in office—a vote he later described as ‘a new senator making a political vote as opposed to doing what is right by the country.”
Nonetheless, this is the first time in American history that the debt ceiling vote has been held hostage by hyper-partisan politics. It won’t be the last. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to put this genie back in the bottle. Whether we default or just end up downgraded because of our inability to govern ourselves effectively, this kabuki theater has real costs—both now and in the future.
And that’s it in a nutshell: the debt ceiling will now be used as a tool in the future. And government shutdowns? Crises over them will become commonplace.
Welcome to government that will echo an old slogan used by Ted Koppel’s Nightline when it first came on during the Carter administration:
“America Held Hostage.”