Joe Nocera of The New York Times continues to relentlessly beat the "blame the Tea Party" drum:
On the other hand, I also found myself nodding in agreement as I read S.&P.'s analysis. The downgrade, after all, was less about economics than politics. S.&P. was frightened by the same thing that has scared most Americans: the spectacle of an unyielding minority of Tea Party Republicans ready to push the country into default rather than accept even modest tax increases to help bring down the deficit. "The effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policy-making and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges," wrote S.&.P. in its downgrade report. Who can disagree?
Well, I for one disagree.
First of all, when Nocera was writing the phrase "an unyielding minority of Tea Party Republicans ready to push the country into default" I wonder if he forgot that he had written one paragraph earlier, "From an economic standpoint, the likelihood of a U.S. default is nil." If the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its obligations is nil then how can Tea Party Republicans have possibly been in a position to push the country into default?
Second, what about the 95 House Democrats who voted against raising the debt ceiling? Why doesn't Nocera accuse them of pushing the country into default? Well, if Nocera did, he wouldn't be in the employ of The New York Times now would he?
Third, Nocera might want to read a little more diligently because the S&P report makes no mention of the Tea Party. Nor was S&P frightened by the refusal of Tea Party Republicans to accept modest tax increases:
Standard & Poor's takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the Administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.'s finances on sustainable footing.
It is also well worth noting that S&P was also unsatisfied with the Budget Control Act because "the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability."
Well, perhaps if the Senate and President Obama had accepted Paul Ryan's budget proposals which would have addressed Medicare we would have staved off this crisis. Last May, Nocera interviewed Ryan and came off less than impressed. While ceding the need to reform Medicare, Nocera chided Ryan's budget for "its radical vision for turning Medicare into, essentially, a do-it-yourself voucher program." It should come as no surprise that Nocera does not offer an alternative to the Ryan Plan. After all, when Ryan told Nocera, "We're heading towards a debt crisis. I don't want to be on the wrong side of history," Nocera wrote, "I was not won over."
Speaking of the Democrat controlled Senate, the last I checked it has been 833 days (and counting) since that austere, deliberative body passed a budget. But they get a pass from Nocera just like the House Democrats who voted against raising the debt ceiling.
As for President Obama, Nocera seems content to follow in his footsteps by blaming George W. Bush. He asks, "Has any president in American history left behind as much lasting damange as George W. Bush? In addition to two unfinished wars, he also set us on the path to our current financial mess."
Now I suppose we shouldn't expect much from Nocera. After all, this is the same man who earlier this month accused "suicide vest" wearing Tea Party Republicans of having "waged jihad on the American people."
But may I remind Joe Nocera that Barack Obama has presided over the Oval Office for 932 days. At what point in his presidency does Nocera think Obama bears any responsibility for the two unfinished wars and current financial mess of which he speaks? He might as well say February 30th because all Nocera has to offer is nonsense.
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