Dan Rattiner's Stories

Thoughts About The Debt Ceiling

I think that in if Congress had not raised the debt ceiling by Monday at 11 p.m., President Obama would have pulled out of his pocket a piece of paper declaring a national emergency. He would raise the debt ceiling by edict and dare Congress to impeach him for exceeding his authority.

I think the Tea Party Congressmen are like Kamikazes. They swoop in to terrorize and destroy, then fly off. They are a horror movie.

I think John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, is a wimp and a sweet man with the personality of Mr. Rogers, which is exactly what you do not need to keep the troops in line. Watching him negotiate with President Obama, who was elected on a promise to give greater largess to those in need, was like watching Rome burn.

President Obama, in my view, and in spite of all his many wonderful attributes, is a lousy negotiator. His repeated references to “billionaires and corporate jet owners” was most unhelpful. You charm your enemy to win them over during a negotiation, not piss them off with stereotypes.

President Obama told the American people that any reduction in spending needed to be linked to an increase in taxes on the “billionaires and corporate jet owners.” He got to eat those words.

He also told the American people he would never sign an agreement unless it was good until after the next election. He got to eat those words too.

It’s a good thing no international emergencies came up during the last three weeks. Here in America during this time, nobody was home. [expand]

It’s not true that in hard times cutting government services has to be linked to an increased tax on the rich, a dollar down here, a dollar up there. Sometimes you just cut services when the money isn’t there. Isn’t that how we run our households? Is there a rule that says we run to the rich uncle each time that happens?

I think Americans, including me, have come to believe we are entitled. They even call them that. Entitlements. For example, anytime you want you can go to City Hall in Manhattan and with a lawsuit demand $17,000 for tripping on one of the city’s sidewalk and they will give it to you. It’s worth it to them not to pay for lawyers. You’re entitled. I can give dozens of these examples. John Edwards made his millions chasing ambulances and almost got to be president. Are we nuts? We stuff ourselves with food and so we have an obesity problem. Most of the rest of the world hasn’t got enough food and so has a hunger problem. Why the hell do you think everybody in the rest of the world wants to come here?

On NPR I heard somebody say this about medical care: “We all know that if it cost $1 million to save a life, Medicare would spend it. But how about if it cost $50 million? Where do we draw the line?”

From a TV commercial for a motorized wheelchair for the elderly: “And how much will this cost you? It’s free! We even do the paperwork for you!”

How about, sir, you have no job, no savings and you are on food stamps, but nevertheless we can help you buy a house? You’re lying on cardboard on the stoop as it is. It’s practically yours already. (This worked until 2008.)

Americans ARE entitled. I am in favor of us being entitled. But it is way over the top. We should be grateful to cut back some.

And are we so entitled that we should be the policemen for the planet? That was a wonderful job we took on. The Prime Minister of China said the other day, in essence, America, go knock yourself out.

The sad thing about President Obama is that he is smart and wonderful and all in favor of helping the people, but the moment he took office to use these skills, he got, as the phrase goes—hit aside the head with a brick—which was that the bottom fell out of the economy, so, too bad, there was nothing to spend.

The good thing about President Obama is that he is young, flexible and now, terrorized like the rest of us, has drunk from the Kool Aid. Yup. We need to spend less and that means less.

If he can gracefully pull off this switcheroo and lead us carefully through the minefield, he will be a GREAT president. I would vote for him again. Yup. I voted for him before. And I’m glad I did.

So you think America is the most powerful country on earth? It’s true, it has the strongest military, the biggest Air Force, the fastest fighter planes and the finest aircraft carriers, but so what? It’s no match for the suits at the International Banking System.

Maybe this past month happened because Washington made a deal with the drug companies to sell more Xanax, Prozac and other mood stabilizers.

I want to say Thank You to the Tea Party congressmen for the education they have just given us about all this. They’ve done their job. Now get lost. They should be like the farmer Cincinnatus, called up to be the Emperor of Rome during a crisis, defused the crisis, turned down the job of Emperor for Life and then went back to the farm.

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