Now that the debt ceiling has been raised, and America’s cherished triple-A bond rating yanked out of harm’s way as all but the most rabid and deluded tea-partier knew all along it would be, the battle to save the nation’s economy and our democratic, self-governing republic just begins. This much seems evident at this point; rather than the leader most who voted for him thought they were electing, the man currently occupying the White House seems to be nothing more than a slick and relentless deal-maker who might be better suited to Wall Street than the presidency.
The so-called Debt Plan “compromise,” much ballyhooed by the Obama Administration and the Republican leadership, will not reverse the death spiral the economy is in -- just witness the swoon the stock market is currently experiencing – or end the dysfunction that has come to characterize the United States government, thanks in large part to the electorate’s apparent fondness for divided government.
Around Christmastime, about the same time that millions of jobless Americas, including hundreds of thousands in California, will run out of Unemployment Insurance benefits, Republicans, who dominate the U. S. House of Representatives, will be pushing hard for passage of a so-called balanced budget amendment, basically the same “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan House Speaker John Boehner has been pushing all along as the GOP’s solution our government’s debt problems. Having rendered government here in California dysfunctional, Republicans now aim to do the same to our national government.
Such legislation, should it pass in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives, is considered likely to die on arrival in the Senate, or at worst be vetoed by the President, before it ever gets sent to the several states for ratification. But given the prevailing climate of political madness in Washington, one never knows, do one.
After all, how many Democrats, or Republicans for that matter, expected Obama would capitulate so easily to right-wing intransience and go along with thrusting most of the burden of spending cuts onto the great mass of his own core constituents? And it was not an excess of partisanship but the supermajority requirement senators have inflicted on themselves that has already rendered the United States Senate, once considered “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” dysfunctional. And who knows better than the people of California about dysfunctional government? We, after all, have been blazing the trail to that decidedly un-exalted state for more than three decades now after abandoning majority rule and imposing a two-thirds requirement on our lawmakers.
This week’s debt reduction deal, cut between the White House in an attempt to pacify a minority of Republicans in Congress, is looking more and more like a smoke screen to obscure that radical, anti-government minority’s long term strategy of abolishing democratic self-government in America by institutionalizing their agenda via constitutional amendment. Down that road lies the death of our democratic republic, the imposition of autocracy, and endless political and economic instability. And who knows that scenario better than we, here in California?
Alas, only those whose memories reach back to those golden days of yesteryear before Ronald Reagan are able to recall a time when passing a budget was not a blood sport in Sacramento. Yet for the first 85 years of California’s existence, taxing and spending decisions were made by a simple majority of lawmakers and the state prospered. Even after the requirement was raised to two-thirds in1933, budgets continued to move through the legislature and to the governor’s desk without undue fuss or delay.
It wasn’t until the enactment of Proposition 13 in 1978 that two-thirds also became the requirement for passing revenue bills, and bipartisan comity packed its bags and permanently vacated the state capitol. Ever since, a small monkey-wrench gang of radical, anti-tax extremists, enabled by the two-thirds rule, has succeeded in imposing its will on the moderate majority, dominate the Republican Party, and send California careening down the dead-end road to governmental paralysis and economic decline.
None other than former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Ron George, in a speech last year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences highly critical of California’s initiative process, has said that as a result of Proposition 13 and other such voter approved measures, “California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes.”
As California goes, so goes the nation?
Now, Republican leaders in Congress are playing into our foreign enemies hands, and courting economic disaster here at home, to satisfy an extremist wing of their constituency possessed of a boundless and largely unreasoning animosity toward Barak Obama and little regard for the democratic principle of majority rule, are apparently willing to plunge this nation – and the world -- into a deep depression to deny President Obama a second term.