Most Americans go through their entire lives without experiencing an event they expect to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting their existence, because a crisis typically means a life-changing emergency event is imminent. It is prescient, then, that for the past two years (at least), America has went from one crisis to another with hardly a moment’s respite, and it turns out that as many have surmised, Republicans manufactured and masterminded each crisis for political expediency and to further their two primary goals over the past four years. Central to their goal of portraying President Obama as a poor steward of the nation’s economy after they sent the nation into a Great Recession, was thwarting his economic plans at every turn through obstruction and creating dangerous situations for the nation and its people.
Regardless the particular economic crisis America has gone through over the past two years, they were all down to Republicans and their never-ending warnings that the nation is broke, in a debt crisis, and cannot spend one penny on anything other than entitlements for their favorite charities; the oil industry, tax cuts for the rich, and defense. All of the economic crises America suffered through the past two years stem from the debt ceiling crisis and credit for all of them belongs to Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan. The debt ceiling debacle did more than just cost America a credit downgrade, it risked the sovereign credit of the United States, spawned the failed super-committee, and delivered brutal sequestration cuts that all were the result of Republicans’ contention that America has a spending problem and a debt crisis.
The Republicans refused to raise the debt limit in 2011 unless there was a dollar-for-dollar amount of spending cuts that led to President Obama and Speaker John Boehner working out a so-called Grand Bargain that included new revenue and budget cuts, but House Republicans demanded spending cuts only. Eric Cantor recently said that Boehner wanted to accept the Grand Bargain, but Cantor and Paul Ryan said no. Cantor, in particular, told Boehner “Don’t do this deal, because that deal was basically going along with this sense that you had to increase taxes, you had to give on the question of middle-class tax cuts prior to the election, and you knew that they had said they weren’t giving on health care.” Cantor continued, “Let’s just get what we can now, abide by our commitment of dollar-for-dollar, and we’ll have it out on these two issues in the election.” The deal was scuttled, replaced with the Budget Control Act, created a super-committee Republicans failed to support, and led to sequestration.
It is important that Americans understand all of the subsequent economic crises originated with the failure of the Grand Bargain including the debt ceiling crisis, credit downgrade, fiscal cliff, and sequestration because Cantor and Ryan said since the President would not budge on taxes or let Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, they would “have it out” on those issues in the 2012 election. Cantor wanted to take the issue of taxes and health care to the voters in the 2012 election rather than strike a big deal with President Obama, and although the Grand Bargain was not an ideal compromise, at least it would have prevented the perpetual economic crisis dysfunction, and provide a relatively complete fiscal solution to America’s so-called “debt crisis.”
The voters sided with President Obama on the issues of tax revenue and the health law when Republicans lost the election, but they still opposed new revenue and connived to defund the ACA under the guise that raising taxes on the rich and keeping the health law contributed to the debt crisis. Republicans, including Cantor and Ryan, disregarded the election’s results at the beginning of the 113th Congress and still oppose new revenue and plan on repealing the ACA either outright or through defunding because of the “debt crisis” and out of control spending. However, on Sunday, after three years of outrageous cries that America has a devastating debt crisis driving Republicans’ fetish to destroy social programs and safety nets, Boehner and Paul Ryan confessed America does not have a debt crisis.
If America does not have a debt crisis now, then America never had the debt crisis Republicans used to create the debt ceiling crisis, credit downgrade, super committee failure, and sequestration the country will suffer through over the next ten years. One wonders if Republicans decided to fabricate a debt crisis when they met secretly on Inauguration night to obstruct President Obama’s attempts to save the economy, and it is reasonable to assume that is precisely what they did. Both Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor attended the secret strategy meeting, and their primary tactic was to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies” that began eight days later when Cantor held the House Republicans to a unanimous no vote against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan because America could not afford it due to the nation’s dreaded “debt crisis.” Subsequently, for the next four years, and counting, Republicans obstructed job creation measures, went on Draconian spending cut sprees targeting everything from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, regulatory agencies, education, and disaster relief all due to a phony “debt crisis.”
There are plenty of reasons to cast aspersion on John Boehner and the rest of the Republicans in Congress, but Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan are the culprits responsible for refusing to go along with the Grand Bargain that, although not ideal, would have prevented the debt ceiling fiasco, credit downgrade, super-committee failure, and sequestration cuts. Maybe if Boehner had been a stronger Speaker he could have reined in recalcitrant teabaggers and the rest of the Republican caucus, but he did not and he did parrot the debt crisis canard for four years, but he was not at the Inauguration night meeting and he did want to pass the Grand Bargain deal with President Obama. What is stunning is that Cantor accepts responsibility for scuttling the deal between Boehner and the President and was willing to stand by the results of the election; until Republicans lost.
There is little reason for joy that Boehner and Ryan admitted there is no debt crisis, because Ryan said there will be one in the near future and Boehner says Medicare and Social Security have to be slashed for long-term fiscal health. It remains to be seen how Republicans react to Boehner and Ryan’s admissions, but it is doubtful they will abandon their slash-and-burn approach to upcoming budget fights and Medicare and Social Security cuts. It is important, though, that the American people are aware that every economic crisis of the past two years began with Cantor and Ryan refusing to go along with Boehner and the President’s Grand Bargain, and that they were more concerned with sabotaging economic recovery and President Obama than governing and serving the American people. There are myriad reasons to detest Republicans for lying to the people about a phony debt crisis, but for the damage they have wrought on the people and the economy, extra malice must be reserved for Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan for purposely creating crisis after crisis borne of their pledge to “show united and unyielding opposition to the President’s economic policies,” and for scamming the American people into believing there was a debt crisis, because they will be paying dearly for the next decade.