Paul Krugman, the famed economist and Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, has, in recent years, coined quite a few clever nicknames for hypocritical fiscal conservatives. And in referring to fiscal conservatives, he does not write of the dying breed of Republicans like Bob Dole, the former Senator, Presidential candidate and disabled war veteran who was humiliated in public by his own party earlier this month.
Dole made a rare appearance in the Senate chamber several weeks ago in an attempt to promote passage of a seemingly benign U.N. Treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Designed to improve access and mobility for the disabled across the globe, the treaty met with defeat from the crazed likes of political also-ran Rick Santorum, who decried the treaty on the catch-all Tea Party grounds that it posed a “direct assault on us and our family!”
It’s enough to make you wonder if Dole asked Santa for a time machine this Christmas so he could venture back to 1996 and fall off the stage at that rally directly onto Santorum’s delusional, useless noggin. It’s frightening to consider that in 2013, nearly 20 years after his failed bid for the Oval Office, Dole would be considered an unelectable liberal radical within his party’s ranks.
But I digress. When Paul Krugman writes of “deficit scolds,” “bond vigilantes,” and my personal favorite, “prophets of fiscal doom,” he refers to true charlatans like Congressman Paul Ryan, who wrote former President George W. Bush a budget-busting blank check for eight years, rubber stamping every unaffordable idea of which Dubya could dream, before suddenly putting on his serious monetary face the minute a Democratic President took the oath of office.
For months, nay years, we have been hearing from Ryan and his ilk that failure to address our long term budget deficits presents dire consequences, an imminent collapse of American security and respectability at a minimum if not an outright nullification of our entire way of life. As we moved ever closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff, the caterwauling grew louder…until it became clear that there’s just no way that President Obama is going to go against public opinion and leave the Bush-era tax cuts intact wholesale.
And just like that, the old fiscal cliff doesn’t seem so scary to GOP leadership. After all, when you come down to it, it’s not Ryan, Santorum or the one percent who will end up hurting if Congress blows past its 2012 deadline, right?
Those who booted up their computers this week to catch up on post-holiday news were greeted with headlines like this: “Senators Returning With Little Urgency as Fiscal Clock Ticks.” Writers Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer report “With just five days left to make a deal, President Obama and members of the Senate were set to return to Washington on Thursday with no clear path out of their fiscal morass even as the Treasury Department warned that the government will soon be unable to pay its bills unless Congress acts.”
Why the sudden move away from Republican baying about the dangers of falling over the fiscal cliff? Another writer for The Times, Nelson D. Schwartz, offers a possible answer: “Some hits — like a two percentage point increase in payroll taxes and the end of unemployment benefits for more than two million jobless Americans — would be felt right away. But other effects, like tens of billions in automatic spending cuts, to include both military and other programs, would be spread out between now and the end of the 2013 fiscal year in September.”
Why worry about what happens at the end of the year, in other words, when it is merely the unemployed and the working middle class who will take an immediate hit to their financial solvency? And lest anyone think the GOP is really troubled by the “automatic spending cuts,” it is best to keep in mind that the word “military” is the only one that gets their attention.
By now I really ought to be used to this sort of disingenuous skullduggery, the seamlessness with which members of the GOP establishment will hold the ENTIRE NATION and its future hostage in order to save some millionaires/billionaires a few bucks, but I must confess, I am not. I urge the mass media to give these tricks their proper title – treason.