Opinion: God Bless America?

Well, you have to hand it to our American cousins. They can certainly do theatrics. The solving of the (self-inflicted) debt crisis has been a real nail-biter. At the tenth hour last night, there was a bi-partisan vote in the US House of Representatives, including the hugely poignant appearance of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. All House members were on their feet as she returned to Congress for the first time since being shot while carrying out a constituency surgery (as we would call it).

It was pure Hollywood. But beneath the tear-jerking choreography let’s acknowledge that it is genuinely historic for the Democrats and Republicans to come together in sufficient numbers to pass something like this. Quite awesome actually. And Rep. Giffords is a true heroine for those of us who value democracy.

But I can’t help thinking that we will look back on this as a seminal moment. The moment when the USA started a decline in its super-power status, as the sun rose in the East (just over Beijing).

The whole thing is just a complete mess, as Obama called it. George W Bush caused most of the debt with his wars and tax cuts for the super-rich. That is, the George W Bush who would not be out of place at a Tea Party rally.

The whole crisis was totally unnecessary. And yet, 50-70 Tea Party members out of 535 congress representatives or Senators held the country to ransom, behaving, as Vice President Biden put it, “like terrorists”. Or, perhaps the USA is finally waking up to three party politics. The Tea Party Representatives, in practical terms, do not recognise their nominal leader, John Boehner.

One Tea Party cheer-leading press release, during the drama, congratulated the Tea Party hold-outs and added “the American People are watching you”. That phrase seemed to suggest an arrogant attitude. An attitude that disregards the views of the representatives of 87% of the people in America and only regards the representatives of 13% as legitimate. “Compromise” is a dirty word, synonomous with “caving in”. Indeed, in one interview John Boehner refused to use the word “compromise” despite it being put to him several times. He preferred the phrase “common ground”.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney kept out of all this and then just came in at the end to enjoy the luxury of hindsight, condemning the final plan. What a rotter! But politically, he probably did the right thing and you’ve got to conclude, after all this, that dear old President Obama’s “jaiket is hanging on a shooglie nail”, as the Scots would say. His re-election is looking less and less likely.

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  • Simon McGrath 2nd Aug '11 - 7:08pm

    Of course many of the Tea Party are bonkers but on the other hand 14trn is an awful lot of money to owe. Obama has been following a classic Keynsian borrow and spend policy with very little effect.

  • Daniel Henry 2nd Aug '11 - 8:29pm

    But his stimulus spending is dwarfed by the money lost by Bush’s tax cuts. Re-instating the taxes would be MUCH more productive towards eliminating America’s deficit.

    The taxes would still be lower than over here.

  • The Republican Party has probably become more Tea-Party friendly now, but whether this will hold appeal beyond the primaries I don’t know.

    Obama is in a world of problems. As far as I know, no country has cut their debts with tax cuts alone and that’s exactly what he has been bullied into. His only hope is that the Tea Party overplay their hand and start calling for the end of all welfare now and a complete freeze in immigration (things that some sections of their movement advocate). But I fear that Obama, in great part through no fault of his own, may end up being a one-term president.

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