I am getting the same sick feeling in my stomach about this that I got when I watched the torture "debate" unfold. This is yet another unraveling of certain pieces of the already threadbare social contract --- the reflexive moral consensus on cruelty and selfishness that we all teach our children and at least pay lip service to if not always live up to. Things like whether or not it's ok to torture --- or to let people flounder with no income at all during a serious economic crisis. You can tell that this is one of those things by the punch drunk response of so many, even some on the GOP side, who are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that this could happen.And bandwagoning on Digby is the Liberty Street blog:
It's way outside the normal consensus about what is expected of our government during an economic downturn and it could be the beginning of something really ugly. Up until now there was no question that it would be political suicide, much less morally wrong, to make massive numbers of unemployed, working and middle class workers, pay in order to make an ideological point. But with these incoherent tea partiers and nihilistic libertarians pulling the same kind of out sized influence the neocons did during the Great GWOT scare, this is what happens. We lose our moral consensus.
This crisis, caused single handedly by the Republicans so their handlers can get obscenely rich is beyond the understanding of the Tea-Bag crowd. The Tea-Baggers are not bright enough to realize that they are being manipulated by people like Dick Armey and his ilk to allow the rich to get even richer.And then, one more, Open Left has a post up titled, "The Principle Of Favoring Wealth Over Work."
The part the Tea-Baggers miss is the concept of social contract. That if we live as if we are all in this together, we can all do better.
It's kind of amazing that one GOP senator, exercising his power of parliamentary procedure to resist an unprincipled expansion of the Obama welfare state, is excoriated as Public Enemy #1 by the left.
And note that it's not just radical bloggers who've jumped on this "wealth versus work" meme. Top Democrats in Congress have sought to portray Jim Bunning as the Republican Beelzebub.
Yet, Senator Bunning's perhaps the most principled member of Congress right now. He deserves our thanks for pushing the legislature to live by its own rules. See the Wall Street Journal's editorial, "Jim Bunning's Finest Hour":
Throughout his Hall of Fame baseball career, Jim Bunning was famous for the brush back pitch: a fastball inside to a batter crowding the plate. Now Mr. Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky who is retiring after this year, is throwing a political brush back in the Senate on behalf of fiscal responsibility.There is ideology and there is truth. And in this debate, it's not difficult to see which side stands with the latter.
And all hell has broken loose. Mr. Bunning has dared to put a hold on a $10 billion spending bill to extend jobless insurance and fund transportation projects. Mr. Bunning says he won't yield until the Senate finds a way to pay for the new spending with cuts somewhere else in the $3.5 trillion budget. For this perfectly reasonable stance, Mr. Bunning has become the Beltway and media villain of the hour. We'd call it his finest hour.
Every time Washington wants to spend money, the Senate Majority Leader asks for "unanimous consent" to authorize the funding, and in the collegial Senate everyone falls in line. But when Harry Reid wanted consent last week for that $10 billion, Mr. Bunning broke the old-boy rules by shouting: "I object."
The faux indignation has been something to behold. "It is simply unfair for one Senator to attempt to hold the Senate hostage," said Senator Richard Durbin. "Unfair," cried Jay Rockefeller. The Obama Administration has attacked Mr. Bunning for playing "political games" and forcing a furlough of 2,000 government workers. (The horror!)
By the way, Democrats could end Mr. Bunning's stand by invoking cloture and getting the 60 votes they need to proceed. Mr. Reid won't do that because he thinks he's scoring points using Mr. Bunning to define Republicans as "obstructionists." So who's playing politics here?
Mr. Bunning is merely asking the Senate to live by the rules that President Obama said it should when he signed an executive order requiring "pay-as-you-go" budgeting. "Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else," he said, only three weeks ago. But instead of backing Mr. Bunning's stand that new spending must be "paid for," the White House is attacking him.
The real story here is that Mr. Bunning is exposing pay-go as a fraud. When Mr. Obama and Democrats want to spend money on their priorities, they waive the rule by declaring an emergency. They only enforce pay-go to block tax cuts. The Senate will soon follow with another $85 billion spending bill, and rest assured that too will violate pay-go rules.