I am done celebrating because, as all admit, it was only one victory in a long list of issues that must be decided. I am done celebrating because the pundits tell us that Presidents can’t accomplish much in their first term because they have to keep an eye on getting reelected and they can’t do much in their second term because everyone knows they are on their way out. I find this a very depressing attitude and it is one of the reasons that I advocate amending the Constitution so we only have a Presidential election every eight years. Although this would probably kill Wolf Blitzer on CNN, who seems to live only for the hoopla of a perpetual election cycle, we should still give it serious consideration. Wolf is already trying to engage in speculation about who will run in 2016 with every interviewee he can corner. This kind of fast forward election express makes actually governing look dull and we need to get more excited about day-to-day governance and watching a President create his legacy to the American people.
I am done celebrating because we did not get rid of the ubiquitous Grover Norquist. He has given the Republicans dispensation for what looks like a tax increase but is actually not. He does this on the basis of a technicality. Since nothing happened by midnight on December 31stGrover tells us that we had already reverted to the taxes as they were before the Bush tax cuts so the taxes went up by default. He tells us that what the Republicans ended up doing was lowering taxes for most Americans and leaving them the same for those above the $400,000/$450,000 levels because the timing of the vote had already caused those higher tax limits to kick in without a vote. So based on this technicality the pledge is still in force, Grover Norquist lives to fight another day on behalf of a teeny-tiny federal government and no Republicans will suffer for their vote on the teeny-tiny revenue plan with all the attached special bequests to groups with strong lobbies in Washington. Whew, isn’t dispensation fine!
In return for a victory which was hardly a stunning loss to Republicans, the GOP has vowed revenge. They insist that they will block Obama at every turn and that they would rather ruin the American economy than raise the debt ceiling again. Raising the debt ceiling was always a given, but now that the GOP feels that they own the House, they continue to use the debt ceiling as a dangerous bargaining chip. This behavior should outrage Americans far more than the Tea Partiers are outraged about the missing cuts in the recently passed tax bill. We have a new Congress, can we hope for a new era of cooperation? To go from a very large government to a very small government cold turkey is not realistic or desirable. Even if we do get bullied into downsizing government it will have to happen in stages. There are excellent reasons to compromise and take baby steps. There are no excellent reasons to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. In fact it is one of those positions which I would consider treasonous because it puts private interests above the best interests of America.