Monday, December 6, 2010

Short-term "deal" is trumped by long-term paralysis in Washington

So, the President and the Congress appear to have reached a deal on a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, linked to a thirteen month extension of the unemployed benefits which were about to expire at the end of the this month. So while another "borrowing" round will be necessary to pay for both, at least the middle class will benefit from the tax cut extension and the unemployed will be less likely to lose their home, their vehicle and the opportunity to feed their family while they search for employment.
Congrats to both the President and the Congress. Something actually got done, in what is commonly known as the "lameduck" session of the Congress.
Some pundits argue that, with those two items off the table, now it is time for both to tackle the START treaty and other large and important items. It might even be possible to take some steps to cut spending...a really big issue.
Nevertheless, with a good portion of new members to the House of  Representatives in denial of global warming, there will be little or no initiative to tackle that big elephant in the room. The American addiction to oil and to credit from China and other countries will continue, seemingly unabated into the future.
It was an Oxford historian speaking on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook who said unequivocally and unapoligetically this morning that the grid-lock that has paralyzed the American government is not only bad for America, it is also very bad for the rest of the world, especially the European Union.
(From the NPR, On Point website)Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies in the University of Oxford, professorial fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He writes a weekly column for Britain’s Guardian and his essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books. His new book is Facts are Subversive: Political Writing From a Decade Without a Name.

And the real test of the American legislators is not in the immediate deal about tax cut extension and unemployment benefits extension, it is about debt, deficit, oil and credit addictions of the American people and their government.
The short-term, significant but hardly earth-shaking, success of today, continues to be overshadowed by the much larger, and seemingly intractable issues like debt, deficit, global warming and political grid-lock.
There is no reason, at this point, for the legislators in Washington to go home for the Christmas recess thinking they have "satisfied" the voters' need for support, action and even vision and courage.
The whole world is watching, the clock is ticking and the problems are growing exponentially.

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