Just Say (What Was That Again?)

Remember those anti-drug ads in the 80’s? Just say no? I have no idea whether they worked–I was too stoned to notice.*  I do remember, though, that the message was simple and direct. NO. Can’t get much simpler than that. Yet Republicans seem perfectly capable of screwing it up.
John Boehner tried to engage in some “secret” dealing with Obama and got smacked down for it. His willingness to cave in a bit on taxes for a large deficit-reduction deal was met with disgust even by members of his own party. The Tea Party, among others, has sent a message that is loud and clear: No more debt. Period.
This is more than a philosophical issue. Ireland’s predicament is instructive. Its debt is so shaky that Moody’s has downgraded it to junk status. For the layperson, that means that lending money to Ireland is about like lending it to a high-risk start up company. Or worse. Since private lenders would not lend, Ireland was forced to go to the European Union for a bailout. Could we end up there? Yes, except for two things: 1) we are not a member of the EU, and 2) even if we were, they will probably be bankrupt long before we figure out that we have truly gone over the cliff. Hmmmm…that leaves us…where?
A mell of a hess, that’s where. Obama is in high dudgeon right now because he simply will not accept the fact that his vision of governance is dead. He will commit political suicide before admitting that the entitlement state must shrivel away and taxes along with it. Republicans are right not to budge on the debt ceiling because they know that the Tea Party will send them home. In the meantime, August 2, the “drop-dead” date that marks when the US cannot pay some of its bills, is drawing nigh.
So what do politicians do in cases like these? Make up something so ridiculous that no one will believe they are actually doing it. Mitch McConnell of KY has just stepped up to the plate. His proposal is so embarrassing that I will not describe it in full here, but there are plenty of descriptions of the, ahem, strategy out there. Basically, it involves raising the debt ceiling three times but allowing the Republicans to vote against it and having the Democrats sustain a veto…aw hell, I can’t do this. You read it.
Hey, Mitch. NO. N-O. (Pause to let it sink in.) Got that? Now, let’s rehearse, slowly at first. Nnnnnnnnnoooooooooo. ‘Er ya go, Einstein. Taking a principled stand (we’ll go over that concept later–you’ve done enough learning for today) will make you the target of unending complaints–for now. If you can find the character to just say no to Obama, and really mean it, we may erect a statue in your honor. If you don’t, we may send you back to doing whatever it was you used to do.
*Just kidding. I stayed away from pot because it took the edge off the cocaine.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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