This past week when Congress passed raising the debt limit, it was a triumphant time for the American people. The surprise appearance by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a moment that both Congress and the American people needed. In her brief appearance before Congress to cast her vote in favor of raising the debt limit, she gave both houses of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike a lesson in civility. Her strength and resolve to make the trip to Washington to cast her vote spoke volumes to all Americans. Congresswoman Giffords is a charming and humble public servant. The rest of Congress could learn a lesson from Gabrielle Giffords. Amid much rancor and acrimony, Gabrielle Giffords’ presence seemed to help calm the divide between those factions feuding over the debt limit increase.
The American public may not be privy to the backroom deal that was brokered behind both houses of Congress; and the tea party minority who seemed hell-bent on driving the American economy over a cliff. It appears that speaker, John Boehner tried to sell a compromise to the House Republicans, but was rebuffed by many freshmen Congressmen who were part of the tea party. The 2010 election didn’t appear to be so much a referendum on Pres. Obama as much as it was an insurgency by the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party.
Practically all of the freshman congressmen who were voted in during the 2010 election have no experience whatsoever in government or public office. It appears that their goal is not to serve, but to aggressively push their own personal agenda and right-wing extremism, which will inevitably prove dangerous to our country. Given that America is governed by divided government, the tea party antics will just not work. The tea party alter ego, in the guise of Grover Norquist seems to be calling the shots and holding GOP members hostage to his ridiculous pledge not to raise taxes, no matter what the cost or damage that’s done.
Pres. Obama has given up much during the compromise process. At the peril of alienating his constituency he moved right of center to try and broker a deal with the House Republicans. Pres. Obama was willing to put entitlement programs on the table for negotiation, such as Medicare and Social Security. This has obviously raised the ire among his supporters and the left. In this high-stakes game of chicken, it appears that a small minority of right-wing Republican Congressman were willing to drive the American economy off a cliff, all in the name of their ultraconservative talking points.
And of course, politics very much factors into the debt ceiling debate. Minority leader, Mitch McConnell stated publicly that he is not going to help give Pres. Obama a second term. He and some other hard right members of the GOP are shamelessly putting party before country. Sane Republicans realize that both houses of Congress must come to a compromise through the conference process. Our government has functioned this way for centuries. So why all the gridlock now in Washington; could it be that the hard right of the Republican parties hatred runs that deep for president Obama?
It appears that the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party wouldn’t take yes for an answer on anything. They’re like the guy who has his finger on the pin of a grenade and is willing to blow both him and his opposition up because he doesn’t agree. We can’t continue down this road for very long. The agreement that was reached this past week will only hold us for a few months. President Obama wanted a longer window so that we would not have to revisit the debt ceiling issue during the remainder of his term. Republicans who oppose this idea feel that a shorter term window will help evaluate their progress on spending cuts to find a longer-term solution.
The reality is, that if America were to have its credit rating downgraded, foreign governments wouldn’t buy our treasury bills for fear that we would not make good on the debt. Obviously, any downgrade or default would wreak havoc here at home and in global markets. While we may have dodged a bullet, the markets are still nervous and watching what Congress does going forward.
While an agreement on the debt ceiling was welcome news, Gabrielle Giffords’ surprise visit truly is what the country needed to have a rallying point on one thing that we can all agree on. Congresswoman Giffords has much respect from both sides of the aisle. With her amazing recovery she has garnered the affection, admiration and genuine love from both Republicans and Democrats. Let’s hope, that her appearance this past week to cast her vote will help tone down the rancor, vitriol and acrimony that has become a shameful part of Washington.