Saturday, July 30, 2011

Republicans are holding the economy hostage and thumbing their nose at the Constitution

I'm not a Democrat or a supporter of President Obama, but the Republicans' actions with regard to raising the debt ceiling is completely disgraceful, although that's probably an understatement.

To recap...

-Congressional Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling to pay for expenditures Congress has already authorized as part of the regular budget. Given that 'Tea Partiers' yammer on incessantly about strict fidelity to the Constitution, perhaps they can explain how their demand that spending be approved by Congress twice squares with the 14th Amendment.

-The current federal fiscal year ends on September 30. This means that Republicans and their 'Tea Party' fringe are holding the economy hostage to their probably unconstitutional ideological posturing rather than waiting two months for budget negotiations, where such grandstanding belongs.

A piece from last year in The Washington Post sheds some more light on the widening inequality in the US.

From World War II until 1976, considered by many as the "golden years" for the U.S. economy, the top 10 percent of the population took home less than a third of the income generated by the private economy. But since then, according to Saez and Piketty, virtually all of the benefits of economic growth have gone to households that, in today's terms, earn more than $110,000 a year.

Even within that top "decile," the distribution is remarkably skewed. By 2007, the top 1 percent of households took home 23 percent of the national income after a 15-year run in which they captured more than half - yes, you read that right, more than half - of the country's economic growth. As Tim Noah noted recently in a wonderful series of articles in Slate, that's the kind of income distribution you'd associate with a banana republic or a sub-Saharan kleptocracy, not the world's oldest democracy and wealthiest market economy.

It's worth noting that not only Republicans but Democrats, like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have been complicit in crafting policies to this effect.

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