“It’s now more socially acceptable to be gay than to be a Congressman,” Barney Frank says these days — and it’s true!
I am bursting with things to say about how nuts all this is, and then what happens? The company that hosts this website had three servers — including the one I apparently live on — spin out of control with “load balancing problems.” They boast 99.9% reliability — which I guess means being down one day every 1000 days — but the 18 hours or so they put me out of business yesterday pretty much exhausted their quota for the next three years. And it’s hardly the first time, as some of you have doubtless noticed. Happily, after repeated calls, they are contrite. They offer to bring my case up for an SOA review, whatever that is, and to credit me for the outage, which would amount to about $4.
But of course this is a beyond trivial in the context of the immense harm Congress is doing to the country — and to real people, many of them our most vulnerable brothers and sisters and children — for absolutely no reason. All they have to do stop hurting the country is . . . stop hurting the country.
If Obamacare is so bad, they should fix it or repeal it — but not this week, and not just to avoid the $95 penalty uninsured young people will have to pay if they choose not to buy coverage. Is that really worth hurting so many people? Retarding economic growth? Increasing the deficit? (The CBO says that repealing Obamacare would increase the deficit.) Jeopardizing the credit of the United States? Possibly even destabilizing the entire world economy?
Well, no, many of the Republicans now say it doesn’t have to be concessions on Obamacare, it’s really about the terrible growth of the National Debt.
Which should really henceforth be termed the Republican National Debt, as so much of it was racked up under Reagan, Bush, and Bush, while the parts racked up under Clinton and Obama should really not count because deficits are like aircraft carriers and take a while to stop. President Clinton stopped the growth of the debt in absolute dollars, by the time he handed it off to Bush — remember the issue of the debt clock running backwards? — and so has President Obama. Not yet in absolute dollar terms, but relative to the economy as a whole, which is the most important metric. The debt was growing at close to 15% a year when Bush handed Obama the $1.5 trillion 2009 deficit (for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2008) and is now growing at under 4%, about the same rate as the economy, between real growth and inflation . . . with further declines, if we don’t needlessly muck it up, in store.
So why are we rushing to muck it up?
To save the uninsured from a $95 penalty? Is that really what has the Koch brothers so upset?
To restrain our national debt — which is now not growing relative to the economy as a whole?
There is absolutely a grand bargain still to be made that would bend some of the entitlement formulae in “the out years” (with plenty of time to bend them back before they even take effect, as prosperity should allow us to do) and that would rationalize parts of the tax code (with modest increases on the uber-rich, most definitely including those 15%-bracket hedge fund managers) . . . not unlike what the President and the Speaker came so close to doing last time, before the Tea Party and Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh put their collective foot down . . . on the neck of the country . . . and kept it from happening.
Our leaders from both parties should sit down and finally make that deal — with both sides giving in on some things, not just Democrats.
But not this week. And not as the whale is about to sound.
What — you don’t know about the whale? You don’t watch Rachel Maddow? Here it is, and even if you have little patience for hokey skits, hear her out. The metaphor builds and builds, and before it’s over, trust me, you will be all about that whale.
I actually saw Moby Dick on Broadway 50 years ago. Long story.
If you have only one night free in New York, it’s the afore-plugged Buyer and Cellar. Full disclosure: I have a stake in it.
And then there’s A Time To Kill, in previews now and opening October 20, in which I have a smaller stake. I haven’t seen it but I’ve read the script. Riveting. And a zillion people read John Grisham’s novel. Do you know what’s bizarre about it? The role of the judge is played by . . . Fred Thompson. Who ran for President of the United States and now does commercials for reverse mortgages. Oh, my.
But my point is that I just saw a small experimental production of Anthem, one of the Ayn rants, and it was good, in its way, but: people! It is a cartoon! Of course tyranny is tyranny. Of course individual freedom is sacred! And in 1937, or whenever, communism posed a real threat. This is what Ayn Rand grew up on, fled from, and railed against. Right on! But having to pay $95 if you choose not to contribute to the universal health care pool is not tyranny, it’s $95.
Even Alan Greenspan, as noted here a few days ago — a close Ayn Rand disciple decades ago — acknowledges that to take her work too seriously and literally, as Paul Ryan and so many other Republicans now do, is just wrongheaded.
Have a nice a day. Watch Rachel and beware that whale.
Quote of the Day
Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.~Teddy Roosevelt, 1902
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