I was planning to write about a young woman from just outside of Mexico, Mo., who spent her vacation last year chasing tornadoes through Missouri, Texas and six other states. It would have been a nice, human interest, “fluff” column. Unfortunately, the president and the speaker of the House are still arguing, and default looms.
I am writing this on Tuesday morning, so I may be a bit behind the news if (and that appears to be a big if) something positive happens in the next 24 to 48 hours. I doubt that anyone is going to move from his or her current trench.
I listened with great care to Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Boehner’s renditions of what is going on. I listened to them again this morning.
The White House, the House minority leader and the Senate leader have made compromises. The president has called for cuts amounting to almost $4 trillion in the next 10 years, something fiscal conservatives were originally seeking. The president wants to take the debt ceiling discussion out of the 2012 campaign and increase the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion. He is asking for those who can afford to pay higher taxes to pay their fair share, for businesses that are making billions in profits to pay their fair share and for money speculators, who add nothing to output of this country, to pay their fair share.
Mr. Boehner is talking about a one-year debt increase of $1.4 trillion, deep cuts with no increase in revenues, while taking the issue of the debt ceiling into the political arena once more as a 2012 campaign issue.
National polling shows almost 80 percent of Americans agree with compromise. Compromise is not a cuss word — at least not yet.
What is keeping those on Boehner’s side of the aisle from compromising? It appears that the Republican Party is being held hostage.
First, by a small group of stagnate-thinking super-conservatives who make the Libertarians look like Federalists. Tea party activists are loud, sometimes obnoxious, while taking politics to new lows in terms of adult debate. If they had their way, federal taxes would be eliminated completely. In fact, it is my opinion that if the tea party activists could manage it, the federal government would be all but dissolved, leaving the states to fend for themselves, the president and Congress as figureheads, and reverting our nation back to 1789 financial and political status. The states would then be the next targets.
By the way, we had a national debt in 1789, well before social programs and the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, the super conservatives’ two favorite targets.
The other hostage taker is Grover G. Norquist, a person few have heard of until this week. And why should you? He has no political standing except as the leader of a fringe anti-tax group. Somehow, though, he has been able to have conservative federal and state candidates sign a no-new-tax pledge.
He is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, which, according to its website, was founded at the request of President Reagan. But the ATR site gives little information about Norquist, other than his affiliations. You need to do a bit of digging to find out more.
Norquist is a Harvard MBA graduate and was an economist and speech writer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other than being the executive director of the College Republican National Committee, he is a behind-the-scenes guy. I do know from personal experience that it was Norquist who rallied Coloradans to vote for the infamous TABOR amendment. In Missouri, it is called the Hancock Amendment.
So how does this group of political neophytes and someone with a funny name and a nonsensical pledge hold such sway and control over all Americans? I cannot answer this either.
I contacted Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Columbia office to get a feel of the goings-on. According to Rep. Luetkemeyer’s Columbia press secretary Paul Sloca, “…the split on calls is about 60 in favor of Republican (/House) approach versus 40 percent for the president’s/Senate approach.”
This sounds contrary to the national polls, so … have you called your member of Congress today?
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.