I know that I've neglected this blog over the past few months; there have been a myriad of opinions flitting through my mind during this time, but for some reason, I have been hesitant to sit down at the computer, and attempt to organize these thoughts for your reading pleasure.
That said, the urge to comment on the debt ceiling crisis, that has been looming over our heads for the past several months, has grown too great to ignore.
For weeks, the threats of a downgraded credit rating and skyrocketing interest rates, among other consequences, has made it impossible for a day to go by when I have not worried about paying my bills, especially with a baby on the way. And I know that I am no different from thousands of other families across the country, who work hard to pay their bills on time and keep their heads above water, and whose economic wellbeing has been held hostage by greedy, hypocritical, petty politicians willing to sink the American economy for their own personal gains, to be placed solely on the backs of the average working Americans. I, along with millions of other Americans, have watched this political game of "chicken" play out on international television, watching an elite few vehemently refuse to place another cent into the American economy, either through fair taxes or through the so-called "entitlement programs" into which we have paid thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars for years, even decades, in order to insure that we would have those benefits, as valuable members of society, when we needed them. We have been repeatedly told that it's more important for the rich to stay as rich as they possibly can than for the rest of us to be able to feed our families, stay in our homes, or pursue higher education in an attempt to achieve the American dream of bettering ourselves.
Today a deal has been reached, between the feuding, increasingly partisan Republican and Democratic parties. And I have mixed feelings about this deal. On the one hand, I feel relief that a default on our debt obligations has been avoided; on the other, there has been no abatement of the resentment I feel about being used as a pawn in this political game of chess, a game that the rest of the world has been watching, while shaking their heads in disbelief.
Both sides have made significant concessions; the Democrats have agreed to refrain on imposing any tax hikes in the immediate future, while the Republicans have taken cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security off the table. In this sense, the deal is a true compromise. However, it only pauses the bitter showdown in which we've been embroiled; a bipartisan committee must present a list of program cuts to both houses of Congress by the end of November, and if their recommendations are not approved by both houses, it will trigger massive cuts from all programs, including Medicare and Social Security. Nowhere in this agreement is mentioned the possibility of automatic tax hikes for those whose income is over $250,000 a year. And in the meantime, over a trillion dollars' worth of spending cuts will be made in other areas of the federal government, a victory for the less-is-more perspective held by Republicans.
So, what have we learned from this? We have learned that, in this political game of "chicken," the Democrats have blinked first. We have learned that Republicans, specifically the Tea Party, have no compunction against holding the entire country hostage in order to achieve short-term, personal gains, regardless of the possiblity of causing the downfall of America. And we've learned that, because of their success this time, Republicans surely will resort to such terroristic attacks during future debates.
I'm not sure I like these lessons.