Americans are now at a place where our credit worthiness as a nation has been downgraded, and more economic hard times are looming. Republicans succeeded beyond their expectations in putting the nation at risk, holding our economy hostage via their one-sided debt ceiling demands. After taking debt negotiations all the way to the wire, Speaker Boehner proudly proclaimed that his party had won as much as 98% of what Republicans wanted. For most Americans and the economy, however, the deal represented about 100% of what they hadn’t asked for.
S&P’s Research Update explains the agency’s downgrading of America:
“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options.”
The Tea Party’s original raison d’etre was protesting the government’s Wall Street bailouts, an event that had been initiated by the Bush Administration after eight years of George Bush’s disastrous economic policies. The Tea Party didn’t actually show up until after Pres. Obama had been inaugurated, although no one ever bothered to ask these so-called activists why they arrived so late to their own party.
In the summer of 2009, at the onset of the health care debate, the “Teabaggers” focused on opposing Pres. Obama in every way, shape and form, which included a confused mix of “government is bad/health care is bad/righting the economy is bad/socialism is bad/Obama is as bad as Hitler” and whatever else was anti-Democratic Party. They were the “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” corporate-funded brigade, an older, richer, whiter America’s version of civil rights activism, protesting the new Democratic administration and its attempts at utilizing government spending, a la Keynes, to spur a failing economy.
The corporate media, for varied reasons, began immediately showering these newly minted faux-Howard Beales with wall-to-wall television coverage. If there was one protester at one town hall meeting, he got as much media coverage as the President. The same three video clips of an angry white person, or two or three, shouting down Democratic congresspersons in purple districts were shown on the tube repeatedly. As the networks and cable outfits cheered in excitement at the tantalizing possibility of a death match between proponents of health care reform and those who insist that government should keep their hands off of their government-run health care, the Tea Party grew shrill and loud.
Tea Party members were always relatively small in numbers, which makes one wonder if intense media coverage of their existence was ever justified. I don’t believe the media ever explained adequately their fascination with this crew. What we did learn is that the size of a protest group never really matters, because the numbers can be made to multiply and grow. The media assigned itself that duty, and there is evidence that they worked hard to get the job done. Continue reading How We Got Here, and What Liberals Could Do Now