One of the most-respected and economically intelligent publications in the world, The Economist, has turned against the Republican party for its disgraceful behaviour with respect to the US debt-ceiling negotiations.The Republicans, the Economist points out, would rather disrupt the US economy and put the country into default than compromise on a long-term deficit and debt reduction plan.
This behaviour is an abdication of the Republicans’ responsibilities as elected officials. It puts the Republicans’ self-interest ahead of the country’s.
The Republicans’ stance on the debt-ceiling has now gone so far, in fact, that the Republicans appear to be trying to disrupt the economy in order to improve their chances in the next elections, rather than address an economic crisis that threatens to affect millions of Americans.
This is not practical or responsible. It’s also not patriotic. It’s traitorous.
The Economist, it must be noted, is a pro-private-sector, anti-big-government publication. For more than a century, the paper has extolled the virtues of free enterprise and free-market capitalism and railed against government bureaucracy, fiscal irresponsibility, and stifling regulation. The Economist should be the Republican Party’s closest ally when it comes to getting the US back on track. And yet, thanks to the Republicans’ extreme stance with respect to tax increases and their recklessness and self-interest with respect to the debt-ceiling, the paper has turned against them.
The Economist points out that the Republicans original strong stance on the debt-ceiling did force President Obama to do something he should have done a long time ago: Acknowledge America’s debt-and-deficit crisis and put forth a long-term plan to address it.
In response to the Republicans’ resistance, the President floated a plan that might save $2 trillion over the next decade. And he has since floated one that might save $4 trillion.
Assuming the economy continues to recover, these savings would be a strong start in getting the country back on track–and the Republicans deserve credit and plaudits for forcing the President to propose them.
But far from declaring victory and then doing the right thing for the country, the Republicans are continuing to behave like dogmatic lunatics — insisting that, no matter what, no deficit reduction plan include any tax increases.
This, the Economist rightly observes, is “economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical.”
It is also a departure from the Republican Party of old, which was actually economically responsible and was therefore willing to raise taxes if and when it needed to. Any intelligent plan to get the US’s house in order must involve both spending cuts and tax increases: We just can’t do it with spending cuts alone. The Great Republican Hero that today’s Republicans often invoke, Ronald Reagan, raised taxes when he needed to. And America’s current tax burden, the Economist observes, is as low as it has been for decades.
It’s time for the Republican Party to grow up and start acting on behalf of the country. Specifically, it’s time for the Republicans to end their reckless, cynical game with respect to the debt ceiling and compromise on a long-term debt-and-deficit reduction plan.
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