Sometimes I get so mired in reading the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico and the like that I don’t get to see politics as a majority of Americans do.
This morning was different. I was feeding the baby at 5:30 and watching the local morning news when they did a quick story on tonight’s debt ceiling vote in the House. The story was simple: the country has hit its debt limit and will start defaulting on loans without action, the president wants an additional $2 trillion written into the ceiling, Republicans will not let it pass unless everyone agrees to get rid of Medicare and turn it into a voucher program, which Americans don’t like, the Democrats want to raise taxes on the rich, which the Republicans say “absolutely not” to, and most Americans polled say they don’t want to increase the debt limit.
It’s that last point that just sort of hung out there — most Americans say they don’t want to increase the debt limit. But then what? They don’t want Medicare changed, which the Republicans are demanding, so what is the other option?
Does it even matter? Today’s vote is not going to pass. It’s a “clean” vote to increase the debt ceiling with no strings attached — no Medicare cuts for Republicans, no tax break ending for Democrats. The likelihood of getting a majority on it is about as likely as it is that Newt Gingrich will win the White House in 2012.
If the debt ceiling vote ever passes, it will only happen with amendments attached, whatever those might be. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the vote will never pass without Medicare changes being added. But could those changes be about how doctors are paid, rather than turning to a voucher system like the GOP has demanded?
One thing is for sure, if the Republicans really are going to go for the actual elimination of Medicare as we know it, like Rep. Paul Ryan proposes, it has to be while holding something very important to the country hostage, and it has to be soon. The party will want the vote over with so they can run as far away from the repercussions as possible during the 2012 election cycle.
Now we just need to see if they are willing to take down the country’s economy to do it.
Photo: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html via Wikimedia Commons
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