Michael de Adder poses a question for which there is no answer because the question itself makes no sense, but he’s saved credibility by having put the proposal in the mouth of the elephant.
There is a current argument over the Biden administration’s refusal to compromise on whether to raise the debt ceiling, but we can’t even agree on what that argument is.
The Republicans insist that compromise is part of all politics. They have perhaps been seduced by the leadership of a fellow who boasted about “The Art of the Deal,” looking at his rhetoric rather than examining his financial track record.
The Democrats insist that some things cannot be modified. When you have run up a debt, it’s no more open to debate than whether it’s sunny out or raining.
Debt is a thing, like a rock: It’s either there or it’s not, and, in this case, it’s there, and, if we don’t pay it, our credit rating will be damaged and we also won’t be able to debate whether that plunges the US, and large portions of the rest of the world, into a massive recession.
Juxtaposition of the Day
The other day, I opined that debt is an inescapable part of governance, but, in the comments, it became a discussion of which political party had raised debt the most.
It wasn’t relevant in that discussion, because the point is that, whatever the size of our debts, we can’t escape having them, nor can we escape paying them. Even when Clinton and Congress cobbled together a budget with a surplus, we continued to run up debt, albeit less as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product.
However, when the topic actually is the size of that debt and who ran it up, Jones and Kallaugher are correct in pointing a finger at the GOP, which makes it particularly farcical for them now to be blaming current spending for prior debt.
The old joke is that, if you laid 100 economists end to end, they wouldn’t reach a conclusion, and there are many ways to explain the rate of spending and of debt.
The budget surplus, for example, came at a time when we had no wars and so could justify reducing defense spending, and also at a time when Newt Gingrich and his allies were holding the presidential feet to the fire.
And the massive spending under Trump coincided with the pandemic, making it hard to differentiate between irresponsible budgeting and necessary emergency spending, though the pandemic and his tax cuts were clearly separate items.
(BTW, Trump could have spiked the football and taken a victory lap for Project Warp Speed having rolled out a vaccine, had he not already poisoned the well by denying the crisis, promoting quack remedies and encouraging lunatic delusions about the vaccines themselves. Different topic for another day.)
Or maybe it isn’t.
Steve Kelley (Creators) is a diehard Trump supporter, and this example of tying the debt ceiling into current and projected spending is so clearly wrong-headed that it raises the question of whether he honestly doesn’t understand how the economy works or is deliberately misstating the facts in order to score political points by misinforming the public.
Meanwhile, Michael Ramirez (Counterpoint) offers a confusing takeoff on Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, in which God is about to pull the pin on the default grenade.
While Ramirez is unabashedly conservative, it seems unlikely that he intends to say that destroying the nation’s credit rating and plunging us into an economic depression is the will of God, but I’m having trouble coming up with another interpretation.
Though “God’s will” is, after all, a common way of deflecting blame. I hope he meant something else.
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
It’s not nearly so hard to assign intent to Ron DeSantis’s latest fatwa against an AP course in African-American Studies, which, as Hall says, fits neatly with his law denying the validity of gender variations and, as Slyngstad argues, amounts to whitewashing — pun intended — the history of our nation.
It is certainly possible to critique the proposed curriculum itself, though it would help DeSantis’s argument to specify his actual objections.
But, for instance, the 1619 Project has been mentioned as a possible resource — whether as a main text or a secondary reading is unclear — and that piece has attracted criticism both for its argumentative tone and its specific conclusions.
However, without knowing what is proposed or how it is supposed to be used or how the final AP test will reflect the recommended resources, DeSantis’s statement that “In the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion” seems, yes, like an attempt to whitewash history in accord with the semi-mythological triumphalist view favored in conservative circles.
That word “lawful” may say more than DeSantis intends, or it may be a dog-whistle to his white supremacist fan base.
Particularly since, as John Branch (KFS) notes, those who object most to Critical Race Theory seem to be the same people who continue not just to accept but to honor those who rose up against our nation in order to preserve slavery, and who instituted Jim Crow laws in the wake of its abolition.
If Ron DeSantis wants to stand out from the white-sheeted masses, he needs to explain exactly why he objects to African-American history courses, as well as why he thinks other people’s sexual orientation is any of his business.
After all, it’s not as if his view of education — in both its racial and religious connotations — has not clearly been a prominent part of public discourse.
Most politicians want their supporters to know where they’re coming from. It’s hard to believe DeSantis would be any different.
Pardon me if I assume he is not.
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice? — W.B. Yeats