The debt ceiling issue is the first defining GOP presidential event because Bachmann is the only serious candidate with a vote in Congress. Tea party backers want to see her self-proclaimed â€œtitanium spine.â€ If she plays it right, she can win huge. If not, she can become yet another fallen idol.
The Canadian rock group Bachman-Turner Overdrive scored big with â€œTakinâ€™ Care of Businessâ€ back in the â€™70s. Now Bachmann realizes that the wrong vote puts her out of business as a presidential aspirant.
President Barack Obama understands that default would inflict incalculable damage to the United States and add to the advantage of the nationâ€™s foreign competitors. He is right to want to repeal unfair Bushonomics.
But letâ€™s be honest: When Obama took office, the Democrats reneged on 2004 and 2008 platform promises to repeal Bushonomics â€” claiming the economic recovery was too fragile. Yet Democratic leaders attack Republicans as defending Bushâ€™s â€œtax cuts for the richâ€ though the recovery is now even shakier.
No wonder Americans are cynical. Obama knows avoiding the economic damage from a default is of greater urgency than a fairness fix.
Bachmannâ€™s tea party posse will not accept any agreement deemed dictated by the president. And GOP legislators, vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right, are understandably nervous about appearing to compromise with Obama.
Conservative columnist David Brooks writes from the GOP perspective and wonders if Republicans are even pretending to govern responsibly.
But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. Thatâ€™s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.
The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nationâ€™s honor.
The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.
But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol.