As political deadlock continues in Washington and the two major political parties in the country continue to play ‘gotcha’ politics that do nothing to address the needs of the nation, the Libertarian Party becomes an attractive alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.
The following is an op-ed from an American in his early 30’s who has serious concerns about the political atmosphere in the country and what this means for the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Please join me in welcoming the band formerly known as the G.O.P.
After this week, they go by a new nickname, “The Band-Aids.” They released a new hit this week called, “A Very Wasteful Band-Aid.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allow the United States to keep borrowing money by way of a three month extension. Republicans claimed to be conditional in their support, stating that a budget must be produced by the end of said extension or the pay of federal lawmakers would be withheld.
That is an interesting threat from a party with such little leverage. But I’ll get back to that.
Being the chair of a county Libertarian party in Indiana, I watched closely to see how our leaders in Congress would vote. I assumed they would offer support to the bill as it had been spoken of favorably by House Speaker John Boehner, who stumped in the Hoosier State for several Republicans during the campaign season.
Myself and others turned to social media asking our elected officials to stay true to the groups who offered support during the campaign season.
As expected, those requests fell on deaf ears.
It was then time to place phone calls and emails to Washington. When we told campaign staffers that we were Libertarians you could hear a snicker, but we asked them to spread the message that we wanted a no vote from our elected officials when it came to further borrowing.
Well, at the conclusion of the day, only one of our elected officials voted against the measure, and that is Democrat Andre Carson, who represents a heavily African-American section of Indianapolis.
These elected officials, voted just as we suspected they would. Every single Republican and one Democrat voted in favor of the band-aid.
Republicans have argued that they were merely playing ball and pressuring the Democrats to the Republicans’ ultimate goal – a budget. While a budget is a respectable goal, one that shouldn’t take nearly as much coaxing as it seems to; I doubt they’ll get one. And at the end of the day Republicans only demanded a budget, so if they do get one it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a good one.
The Democrats were a mixed bag. While President Obama stated prior to the vote that he would not block the bill if passed, other prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi voted against it. Why? My assumption is, well, because it’s Nancy Pelosi, and to her asking for a budget is like shouting obscenities at her grandmother. You see a budget actually requires that things be written out with a sense of transparency for the American people. Admittedly Pelosi prefers passing legislation before it has been read, and cares very little whether or not government actually has some standard of accountability.
Some Republicans view this bill as a Band-Aid, or a temporary fix to an ugly situation – one that buys time for more discussion and debate. But it’s still more borrowing, and for a nation that is over 16 trillion dollars in debt, it’s an expensive Band-Aid – a very wasteful Band-Aid.
The closest parallel I can draw regards private student loans. Companies like Sallie Mae maintain different standards for private loans than they do for their public loans. For instance, if students are unable to make a payment on a private loan after the grace period has expired there is no option for deferment. Rather a student (or graduate) may opt for forbearance. With this the student may opt to pay a $50 fee. The fee will bring him (or her) current, keeping collections from blowing up their phone. The downside is that this $50 does not go towards paying off the actual loan. In a sense it’s wasted money. It’s paying the company who owns your loan while not actually paying on the loan itself.
And that’s what the House did this week. They chose forbearance. They chose to spend/borrow more money, without actually making a payment on their loans.
Democrats would say this is cool. After all, we have to pay the bills.
But if paying the bills is really what we’re interested in doing, our national debt has to be considered “the bills.” Borrowing more money to pay anything else is just robbing Peter to pay Paul.
More than anything this was an attempted facelift. Republicans were aiming to shake the “Party of No!” label that the mainstream media has cast upon them. Unfortunately becoming a Yes Man only adds to an already severe problem. Yes, we have to begin working on a solution now. I don’t think those who chose to borrow more were necessarily being short sighted.
However, their focus was less on the issue (the debt) and more on their public image. Perhaps, one of these days we, as Americans, will elect people who are more concerned with the vital issues at hand during a two-year term and less concerned with branding for a re-election.
If you start paying off the debt and over the course of time make a positive impact on our economy, your image will take care of itself.
Remember when I said I’d get back to my statement that threatening to withhold pay was interesting coming from a party with no leverage? I’m back to that now.
If the GOP were to have voted on principle today saying, “No more borrowing. Period,” I would have respected it. However the Democrats, along with a media that seems very anti-fiscal responsibility, would have demonized Republicans. They would have said, “There they go again, throwing Grandma off the cliff (they like that phrase according to Sean Hannity).” And the general public would have cringed at the insensitive Republicans for all of the hurt that they caused.
Likewise if no budget is produced at the end of this three month extension, the Democrats could easily cry foul as the GOP attempts to enlist measures to withhold the pay of lawmakers.
They could say (along with the help of the mainstream media), “Look at what the Republicans are doing now! Without pay how will we provide for our families? Without pay, how can we continue to work? We need to be together here, working towards solutions to get Americans out of this mess. Republicans are simply holding us hostage and obstructing our progress.”
And again the public would turn against the Republican Party. Simply put, their leverage is non-existent.
With all that said, that is my take on what they did this week. That is why the GOP continues to be out of favor with so many Americans.
And that is just one of the many reasons that I, Paul E. Gable IV, am a Libertarian.
(Ed. Note: This op-ed was sent in by my son, who works for a newspaper in Indiana and is the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Shelby County (IN).