We might as well have defaulted.
Regardless of where you stand politically, the deal to raise the federal debt limit came too late for the U.S. to achieve its main objective, avoiding the downgrading of debt issued by the U.S. Treasury that would have followed a default.
"The political and financial world surely thinks less of us now, and one demonstration of that will likely be a downgrading of the credit rating of the U.S., probably imposed in the next few months," writes John Keefe of CBS's Moneywatch. "The net result will be higher interest rates on U.S. government debt, which is likely to bleed through ultimately to higher costs for all sorts of other interest rates."
The buzz on Wall Street says that Standard & Poor's will soon downgrade T-Notes from a sterling "AAA" either to "AA+" or "AA", the same as Slovakia. That's exactly what would have happened had there been a default.
It is true: Our leaders are idiots.
Liberals got rolled.
Just like on healthcare.
Just like on everything else.
Everything about the way this deal went down, from the initial posturing to a compromise that will make the Great Depression of 2008-? even worse, along with Congress' total lack of concern for the hardships being faced by the 20 percent-plus of Americans who are unemployed, has people disgusted.
"The big loser after this exercise is Washington," Republican strategist Scott Reed tells The New York Times. The 2012 election "has the potential to be an anti-incumbent feeling in both parties." Gee, ya think?
If any good comes out of the debt limit fiasco, it's that this embarrassing showdown could serve as a long overdue wake-up call to liberals who still have faith in the Democratic Party. Maybe, just maybe, these ideological rubes will finally accept the obvious truth:
Those corrupt corporate-backed pigs just aren't that into us.
So boycott the pigs. It is time for Real Liberals to kick Team Democrats to the curb. It isn't hard. Next November all you have to do is...
Nothing. Just. Don't.
In other countries voter boycotts have a long and proud tradition as a way to effect pressure on a non-responsive political system.
Samuel Huntington cites the example of apartheid-era South Africa in his book "The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century": "In the 1988 municipal elections, the [pro-apartheid] South African government...clamped down on pro-boycott opposition groups and made it unlawful for individuals to urge a boycott." The African National Congress then upped the ante, declaring its intent to "use revolutionary violence to prevent blacks from collaborating [by casting a vote]."
Extreme, perhaps. Effective, definitely. The ANC is now the majority incumbent party in post-apartheid South Africa.
Are you Real? Or do you play for a Team?
If you're a Real Liberal, you espouse liberal values and policies that you think would make America a better place. If you're a partisan of Team Politics, you only care about one thing -- whether the Democrats get elected. You couldn't care less about policy.
Which side are you on?
Like Clinton and Carter before him, Obama has sold out core liberal Democratic principles, such as fighting for the weak and poor and expanding the social safety net, as well as civil liberties. He can't point to a single major liberal policy achievement. Heck, Obama hasn't proposed a major liberal bill. Even so, Team Democrats will vote for Obama in 2012. Team Democrats are Democrats first, liberals last.
Real Liberals, on the other hand, have no reason to support the Dems. The debt limit deal makes this painfully clear.
Paul Krugman, the only reason to read The New York Times op/ed page, calls the debt limit deal "a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America's long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status."
Krugman is a Real Liberal. Real Liberals care about liberal policies ? defending old liberal victories such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as struggling to achieve new gains like a public-works program to put the unemployed to work.
Real Liberals give Democratic politicians the benefit of the doubt. But after they prove themselves to be a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), Real Liberals withhold their support. Classic example: Joe Lieberman, the senator from Connecticut. Current version: Barack Obama and his allies.
Obama has been locked in an epic showdown with House Republicans for weeks. Matador vs. bull. Scary and exciting.
First and foremost, the debt ceiling debate was ridiculous from the start. The economy is at a standstill. Recent GDP numbers came in at a sub-anemic 1.9 percent, so low that the real unemployment rate of 21 percent will continue to increase. Foreclosures are emptying out whole neighborhoods.
The traditional, historically proven Keynesian response to Depression is for the government to spend more. Members of both major parties know this. Yet here they were, both agreeing to spend less, indeed to slash the budget by historic amounts. If the Democrats had an ounce of sense, much less principle, they would have refused to discuss budget cuts at all. (Although an end to the wars would be nice.)
Obama and Congressional Democrats went along with trillions in cuts, cuts that may lead to Soviet-style collapse. The Dems' only demand was that a final agreement include tax increases on the wealthy.
In the end, the Hopey Changey matador hopped the fence and fled the stadium. The GOP got their cuts. The Dems didn't get a cent of taxes on the rich.
OK, Real Liberals. It's been three years. You know Obama's record. Obama never fights. When he does, it's for conservative values, like slashing the federal budget and giving our money to millionaire bankers.
Why would you vote for him, or any Democrat, next year?
I know, I know: the Even More Insane Evil Republicans would take over. Après nous, la deluge. To which I ask, really, truly, no sarcasm -- what difference would it make?
What if John McCain had won in 2008? Do you think we'd be at war in more countries than Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya? Would the Republicans have done less than Obama for the unemployed and homeowners getting evicted from their homes?
How much longer are you going to tolerate the sellout Democrats? How many more times are you going to stand in line to cast a vote for these treacherous scum?
--(Ted Rall is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." His website is tedrall.com.)
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