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The Debt Ceiling Debate

Robert Reich (Source: Wikipedia)

Brilliant liberal UC Berkeley professor and former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997, Robert Reich, wrote a recent article titled:

The Battle for the Soul of the GOP – 5/9/2011

Reich has also published an insightful new book title “Aftershocks” about the future of the U.S. economy implied by the current Great Recession related to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

You might remember him as the really short guy lampooned on Saturday Night Live in the late 90s.


Liberal Interpretation of Conservative Beliefs

For me, alarm bells always go off when a Republican/conservative tells me what Democrats/liberals are thinking and visa versa as Reich is doing in his article.

I no more believe that a Republican understands how Democrats think than liberal professor Robert Reich, as smart as he is, can interpret the Republican/conservative mindset.

From that perspective I watched the complete Boehner speech before the Economic Club of New York that Reich’s article written the same day is responding to:
Complete Speech by John Boehner at the Economic Club of New York – 5/9/2011

The Robert Reich Interpretation of Conservative Beliefs

In his article Reich talks a lot about “Tea Partiers” and their influence on the GOP.

Boehner in his speech does not even mention the Tea Party Movement at all or refer to anything connected to it whatsoever except that we need to reduce government spending and get this nation’s debt under control to return to economic prosperity.

That is something that every single person that has debt issues understands and must face, whether they be Democrat or Republican… it’s not just a frivolous Tea Party thing as Tea Partiers are characterized on TV.

I doubt if you listen to the whole Boehner speech that you’d associate the Tea Party Movement, as portrayed in the media, with any part of it. I didn’t. But Reich is smart enough to know that it is related because he ALMOST understands what the Tea Party Movement is about.

Reich applies his formidable intellect and savvy understanding of economic policy to interpret the Boehner speech.

Reich says, “The Tea Partiers don’t care about the debt ceiling. To them, it’s a giant bargaining chit to shrink government. Nor do they worry about credit markets. If the full faith and credit of the U.S. government is no longer honored, so much the better.”

He goes on to say, “You see, Tea Partiers hate government more than they hate the national debt.” and “The Tea Partiers’ real aim is to shrink the government.”

That is where his liberal bias misinterprets conservative thinking.

What Tea Partiers Really Believe

The Tea Partiers are people just like you and me who sit down and look at the bills at the end of the month and suddenly discover that they’ve let their credit cards, house payments and car payments get so high that they can no longer keep up with the bills and need to do something about it.

Tea Partiers for sure hate the idea of Big Brother controlling their lives, but finances are their primary motivation.

Tea Partiers have concluded that the irresponsible fiscal behavior of the federal government is now messing with their personal finances and future well being and that something needs to be done about it. Finances is what the Boehner speech is all about.

Tea Party Movement concerns are more related to government finances, which is their #1 concern, than to the size of government. They understand that current government size and spending policy is completely out of whack with fiscal reality and that no amount of spending increases through taxes – that ultimately come out of their pocketbooks – can fix the problem and maintain current services into the future.

Cuts, out of pure necessity, MUST be made.


Taxes can and should be a part of an overall solution to the fiscal crisis as suggested by Reich and liberal Democrats yet denied by Republicans, but where liberal thinking goes completely awry is that they believe that tax increases can solve most of the problem when only spending cuts can.

And that is what the ‘raising of the debt ceiling limit tied to meaningful spending cuts’ debate is really all about.

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