The OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., was where Doc Holliday and Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the Clantons and McLaurys on Oct. 26, 1881. At the end of that 30-second showdown, Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded, and three cowboys were dead.
President Barack Obama and House Republicans’ showdown over the debt and deficit quickly is turning into Washington’s OK Corral. And politicians on each side are trying to convince you which are Tombstone law enforcement (the good guys) and who the rogue cowboys (the bad guys) are.
The real problem is that though they accuse each other of being relentlessly uncompromising, partisan preference and self-preservation is too often each camp’s greatest agenda. Compromise was an honorable concession in yesteryear, when two sides respectfully came together for the common good. Now it is a weapon used to pit your opponents against the American people — in the arsenal to assassinate an opponent’s character.
If I were in the Washington corral right now, this is what I would shout to those political yahoos: The issue and question shouldn’t be what compromise can you make to acquire your partisan preferences, but what catalyst can you create to build up our economy?
There is no better example of extreme partisan politics and underhanded compromises than President Obama. Two weeks ago, in the heart of the Washington debt debates, he proposed a far-reaching debt reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare. Sounds so compromising, doesn’t it? But it is conditionally connected to the Republicans’ support for a tax hike on households that earn more than $250,000 annually.
The politically devious aspect of that offer was that it had a twofold demise for Republicans if they rejected it. First, they would appear to be rejecting the heart of their political quest and plan, to cut spending. Secondly, they would be perceived by the public to be obstinate and uncompromising, unlike President Obama.
Mark Mardell, North America editor of BBC News, hit the nail on the head concerning Obama’s modus operandi: “If the Republicans quit, refuse to do a deal in the face of what looks like the president being so willing to compromise that he is damaging his reputation with his own party, they will look like ideological hotheads.”
Last week, Obama deepened that partisan divide by again pitting Republicans against Social Security recipients. Ironically, after proposing the week before to cut their benefits, he then appeared to coddle them. In an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS News, the president spoke to older Americans like a passionate caregiver and said they may not receive their Social Security, veterans and disability checks after Aug. 3 because “there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”
What makes Obama’s whole “compromise” charade even more malevolent is that he lied to the American public by saying the federal government couldn’t pay for those entitlements. Karl Rove, in his commentary this past week in The Wall Street Journal, noted how Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, projects that the government will receive $172 billion in revenue between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31. That revenue “can pay the $29 billion interest charges on the national debt, Social Security benefits ($49 billion), Medicaid and Medicare ($50 billion), active duty military pay ($2.9 billion), Department of Defense vendors ($31.7 billion), IRS refunds ($3.9 billion), and about a quarter of the $12.8 billion in unemployment checks due that month.”
No wonder tea party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., lambasted Obama in a video posted on his website: “President Obama, quit lying. You know darn well that if Aug. 2 comes and goes, there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all of our Social Security obligations.” Is that the conduct you want and expect of the supreme leader of America and the Free World? So much for transparency!
Obama’s lie and misleading compromise prompts me to recall the wisdom of Founding Father Elias Boudinot, who once said, “If the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.”
Washington politicians, from the president on down, need to quit their demagoguery and enact only what would build up America’s economy and people. If I were president, I would push to cut 10 percent of the federal government’s spending across the board — no exceptions; everyone sacrifices. (It’s the only equitable way to lead forward.) I also would seek to cease all corporate tax exemptions and loopholes and cut the corporate tax rate from its present 35 percent to 24 percent (just less than the European 25 percent average), bringing offshore money and productivity back to America. (If Washington immediately made those two fiscal moves alone, it would not only send a strong signal of credibility to the world market about the American economy but also eliminate the need to raise the federal debt limit or to raise taxes on any American.)
If Washington politicians don’t enact a similar plan, Aug. 3 may be a day when we all watch the haze from their political smoking guns clear and reveal the wasteland in Washington’s OK corral — no thanks to their compromises and scare tactics. Like you, I hope and pray that the casualties of their showdown shootout will not be our economy and posterity.