The metaphor that Republicans are hostage takers has been used by several writers regarding the debt ceiling debacle that has brought the nation’s economy to its knees. The analogy is an incorrect one for a simple reason: hostage takers are supposed to let go of the hostage after their demands are met. President Obama and Democrats in Congress have already agreed to massive cuts as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, despite the unprecedented demands that Republicans have made, yet the hostage has not been released.
The more accurate comparison would be to a suicide bomber: someone that is willing to injure innocent parties, as well as themselves, for ideological purposes. The Tea Party has no intention of negotiating a deal with President Obama. They just want to bring President Obama down, along with the federal government in the process. The country has taken a backseat to their political agenda. They have proven to not only be radical, but living in an imaginary and dangerous world. Everyone else is left to pick up the pieces.
Perhaps the most high profile of the Tea Party members in Congress, Michele Bachmann, leads in many polls among GOP primary voters. She has said that she will not vote for a debt ceiling increase under any circumstance. “I will not be casting my vote for that bill. … I cannot. I am committed to not raising the debt ceiling,” Bachmann said, referring to Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s bill. Even worse, Bachmann has repeatedly denied that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would lead to a government default and economic calamity.
Right now Republicans are living in an alternate universe where they believe that their failed policies of the past decade will somehow lead us out of the mess that we are currently in. This self-inflicted wound on the economy will be even more difficult to get out of than the housing bubble that was precipitated by Republican deregulation. Just a little over six months after voters gave Republicans a second chance in the face of high unemployment, they are about to send the economy diving yet again. Theirs jobs mantra during the 2010 election was a hollow and deceptive ploy to regain power from a country that was desperate for economic recovery.
Republicans in Congress have gone where even the most brazen politicians have never gone before. Unless they get their way with trillions of dollars worth of cuts, a refusal to raise taxes on millionaires, and the dismantling of Medicare, they are prepared to send the country’s economy over a cliff. Their demands include a Constitutional amendment that would require government spending to be capped at 18% of GDP and a balanced budget. In essence, their position is a stealth attempt at dismantling Medicare and Social Security. Where they could not succeed with Paul Ryan’s budget, they are attempting to succeed by strapping a bomb to their chest and threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get their way.
The way to defuse an explosive situation such as this is by having a defection within their ranks. John Boehner and whatever reasonable Republicans that are left should immediately cut the Tea Party wing loose and break a deal with Democrats. President Obama has been frustratingly willing to compromise Democratic principles in his efforts to win a deal with Boehner and nothing has come to fruition despite giving away the bank. It’s time for the Speaker to realize the monster that he has created and put it to rest. The Tea Party will not just be the end of the Republican Party, but the end of America’s economy.