Members of the U.S. Congress reported Wednesday they were continuing to carefully debate the issue of whether or not they should allow the country to descend into a roiling economic meltdown of historically dire proportions. -- The Onion
graphic in the Sunday Times: (1) the widening deficit has been caused not by non-defense discretionary spending but by the Bush tax cuts and the costs of war; (2) the deficit will not be solved by gutting non-defense discretionary spending, but requires some increase in taxes; (3) more government spending, not less, is needed to jump start the economy and create jobs.
Here are some other things I know: (1) in prior administrations, the debt ceiling was raised countless times without one party holding the other hostage; (2) taking the country to the brink of default is due to Republican insistence on massive spending cuts without tax increases before it will agree to raise the debt limit: (3) Obama and the Democrats continue to seek compromise, if not capitulation, on spending cuts in order to placate the GOP but it has not worked because (4) the House Republicans, having refused to agree to any deal that includes tax increases, appear perfectly willing to allow the U.S. to default rather than waiver from their ideological rigidity; (5) the Democrats' latest proposal has them agreeing to $2.5 trillion in spending cuts without any deal on tax increases in order to prevent the government from defaulting; (6) remarkably, although this gives the Republicans everything they want, they still may not go for it.
If you rely on the mainstream media, you don't hear that this is, as Steve Benen puts it, a "Republican-generated crisis." You don't hear that the crisis could be over quickly if Congress simply increased the debt limit with a clean bill -- as they did seven times for President George W. Bush. You don't hear how extraordinary it is that Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, which Bush's former budget director referred to as a "housekeeping matter." You don't hear that Bush and the Republicans, not Obama and the Democrats, are responsible for the deficit in the first place. You don't hear that Democrats have conceded to Republican demands for spending cuts even though this will do little to reduce the deficit and nothing to help solve the real crisis in America -- unemployment. And you don't hear about how the Democrats are doing this in large part because they want to ensure that our economy and the global economy don't tank on August 2nd, while the House Republicans, many of whom likely believed that Judgment Day was coming May 21st, don't believe anything will happen on August 2nd if they don't agree to raise the debt ceiling -- and if it turns out to be catastrophic, they are okay with that too because it will help them win back the presidency.
Instead, what you do hear is the conventional wisdom that we must immediately reduce the long-term deficit and that both sides are equally at fault for failing to achieve this through debt-ceiling negotiations. What you do hear is that the crisis is caused by debt-ceiling gridlock, bipartisan bickering, and the fight over two competing proposals. As Kevin Drum said, "the American press, as long as it's bound by its usual standard of objectivity, just isn't set up to deal with a two-party system in which one of the parties has gone completely off the rails."