Paul Ryan was a high school prom king. Also his dad died when he was young, which is sad and uncool, and now he wants your dad to die too. Mitt Romney picked this guy to be his running mate Saturday morning, in a clever bid to capture a bloc of voters who might otherwise have gone to Obama: Tea Party members. Actually Ryan is a respected representative whose traction among the conservative wing of his party would help President Romney corral a potentially rebellious Congress. Or Candidate Romney decided he was going to lose in November unless he did something crazy. It depends whom you ask.
As of this morning, the Congressional Deficit Super Committee is neither super nor really a committee, since they managed to agree on exactly no things. Congress and the deficit remain real. Meanwhile, the group of six Republicans and six Democrats cannot even settle on why they failed to reach an agreement, although both sides concur in principle: it was them. “We made a reasonable offer and got nothing in return. We got naked in the room. Republicans are standing there in overcoats, hats and gloves and are toasty warm,” said one Democrat on the panel. “We showed some leg. The Democrats want us to get completely naked,” explained a Republican aide. As usual when two parties can’t bring themselves to take their clothes off at the same time, somebody else is going to get fucked.
Congress voted Wednesday to reaffirm “in God we trust” as the national motto, re-enshrining the slogan as okay for public buildings, schools and other government edifices. Before Wednesday, the official national motto was “in God we trust.” The House basically introduced a law expressing its support for the existing law about which saying we like, and then it spent the afternoon voting yes. Meanwhile, the Republican delegation has filibustered the President’s jobs bill. Regardless of how you feel about that proposed piece of legislation—or its constituent parts, which will rise from the dead and lurch toward the Senate floor for the rest of the year—it’s worth noting that Congress did not spend Wednesday debating alternate jobs plans. In the midst of our protracted economic convalescence, the United States Congress has decided to hold still and declare our trust in God.
Remember when we gave the government a monopoly on force and authorized various representatives to collect and disburse resources on our behalf? It’s possible that was a mistake. Either that or it’s business as usual on the reeking shores of the Potomac, and the leaders of both parties are holding our national anxiety level hostage for whatever advantage they can derive without pushing us to real crisis. It’s difficult for the layperson to decide just how seriously to take our present negotiations over the debt ceiling. Economists agree that a default would wreak awful damage on the economy, except the markets haven’t really responded. Congress raises the limit pretty much every year, except for the last two weeks the President has been walking out of meetings and Eric Cantor has whined like a young lady who needs a nap. The GOP refuses to consider any revenue increases even as they accuse the President of intransigence, and Harry Reid is a wiener. So whom, to paraphrase the Joker, do you trust?
As the August 3rd deadline to either raise the federal debt ceiling or submit to our Chinese masters nigh approaches, Mitch McConnell has proposed a new solution: Congress could authorize President Obama to increase the borrowing limit himself. The Senate Minority Leader suggested that the President be given the authority to allow an additional $2.4 trillion in debt over the next year, provided he specifies an equal amount in spending cuts. It’s an odd move, given that negotiations have foundered for weeks on Republican demands that the President agree to cuts before the ceiling is raised. Unless you are a Republican, in which case negotiations have foundered on the President’s insistence that 25% of the increase be covered by taxes on corporations and the wealthy.