Tag: congress

Cutting USPS Loose

After spending quite a bit of time complaining that the post office is losing money (partially because they are being forced to actually fund their pensions like a regular business), Congress has turned a quick about face:

A spending measure passed by the House on Wednesday to keep the government operating through September requires that the Postal Service maintain a six-day mail delivery schedule, a potential setback for the agency, which announced last month that it planned go to five-day deliveries to cut costs.

Faced with billions of dollars in losses, Postal Service officials said last month that beginning in August the service would stop delivering mail on Saturdays, though it would continue to deliver packages on a six-day schedule. The agency said cutting Saturday delivery would save about $2 billion a year.

The agency lost about $15.9 billion last year, partly the a result of a 2006 law requiring it to pay about $5.5 billion into a health benefits fund for its future retirees. A drop in mail volume has also hurt the agency’s finances.

Congress also wants to prevent the closure of seldom-used rural post offices.

Look, there is no magical efficiency engine that the Post Office can kick to make the system work. Either they massively raise postal rates or they cut services or we continue to pour billions of dollars into them. It’s possible — possible — that a massive overhaul of the system would make everything work. But given the maze of regulations and existing contracts, such massive reform is almost impossible. And it would certainly not work with six-day delivery and thousands of rural post offices. And if you think Congress is interfering now, just wait to see what they would do if USPS tried to change union contracts.

(If you want some amusement, throw these facts onto a liberal blog and read all the ensuing comments about how the postal service connects us all to each other like some kind of national psychic mucus. Even if you go in for such woozy sentiments … that was not the intention of the post office.)

The alternative to letting the Post Office cut services is allowing private companies to compete with them. While this ideas has its merits, it would only make the situation with USPS itself worse. Private companies would instantly slurp up the most profitable parts of the business leaving USPS — tied down by federal regulations and union contracts — to become an even purer money hole. You could, of course, then allow USPS to sink completely below the waves. But that would leave the government, by federal law, on the hook for their pensions and leave rural areas either cut off or paying gigantic postal rates. And that’s leaving out the thorny Constitutional issue that Congress is mandated to establish post offices and post roads.

In any case, those are the choices: privatization with the problems it entails, continued massive subsidies or curtailing of services. There is no other alternative.

But Congress has never felt particularly bound by the laws of mathematics. They want a monopoly Post Office that delivers everywhere six days a week at current prices but doesn’t lose any money. They might as well wish for a postal service run by unicorns.

The Founding Fathers Said What?

I must hand it to Harvard: only at Harvard could someone be educated enough to make such a weak argument:

In making the legal case against Obamacare’s individual mandate, challengers have argued that the framers of our Constitution would certainly have found such a measure to be unconstitutional. Nevermind that nothing in the text or history of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause indicates that Congress cannot mandate commercial purchases. The framers, challengers have claimed, thought a constitutional ban on purchase mandates was too “obvious” to mention. Their core basis for this claim is that purchase mandates are unprecedented, which they say would not be the case if it was understood this power existed.

But there’s a major problem with this line of argument: It just isn’t true. The founding fathers, it turns out, passed several mandates of their own.

Einer Elhauge, a Harvard law professor, is the author of this piece. He cites three example: two mandates on shipowners insuring their sailors and a mandate on able-bodied men to buy firearms.

There are a huge number of problems with this argument, which is probably why, as Randy Barnett points out, the argument was dismissed by the lower courts and not even mentioned by the Solicitor General. First, the Founding Fathers also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, the last of which was blatantly unconstitutional. These acts all preceeded Marbury, when judicial review was really established. Had the concept of judicial review been in place, they might not have been upheld.

Second, these mandates are in areas that are a federal concern. The first two deal with ships in navigable waters, which are and have been federally regulated. The third concerns the militia which is an explicit federal concern. Neither involves a purchase requirement on people not engaging in commerce and neither forces commerce to be undertaken. To compare this to a mandate covering the largest industry in the country, a mandate that will affect every citizen and compel them to spend thousands of dollars is ridiculous.

Third, the modern insurance industry, as we know it, did not exist until the mid- to late-19th century. What the hell was this insurance? We’ll go to Volokh again, who points out that this was, in fact, a tax levied on ships coming into American ports that was used to fund hospitals for sailors. To go to the hospitals, the sailors had to produce a proof that the tax had been paid. This isn’t really comparable to Blue Cross. As was pointed out about a million times during the healthcare debate, Congress could have made this Constitutional by putting it in as a tax used to pay for the uninsured. But they were so obsessed with not appearing to raise taxes, they didn’t go that route.

You can feel the desperation out there, can’t you? They are clutching at straws, trying to render the Court’s verdict unacceptable before it is even delivered.

Best argument…

About why what the left has been doing to us for the last century, whether you think it was meant to do good or not, is wrong, was made by Glenn H. Reynolds, he of Instapundit fame, here:

The Constitution of the United States was supposed to create a federal government limited to the comparatively few powers specifically enumerated therein, mostly in Article I, Section 8. The idea was that the federal government would address subjects that really needed to be handled on a national level. The states would do the rest, or people would take care of matters on their own.

As James Madison wrote in the Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

To underscore this arrangement, the Tenth Amendment provided that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This division of powers was intended to protect freedom by limiting the scope of the powerful national government. It was also intended to reduce the extent of corruption in the federal government. The powers most likely to encourage corruption were left to the states.

Our forefathers understood that the bane of every system of government was the abrogation of power at the highest/ federal level that would encourage the type of corruption that turned Europe into freedom lacking the shit hole it was then and to many extents in far worse ways, is today. Obamacare is just the latest step on the road to full blown government control of everything.

Yeah, the cultists that love Marx’s dumb idea will vehemently disown marxism, but the end goal, even if many amongst the masses aren’t bright enough to see that yet, and the politicians that push it deny that’s the intent, is full blown state control of everything and everyone. Maybe not direct control of all aspects of life like we saw in the USSR, but then again, when you have a government with not just the power to pick winners and losers, but a justification to do it all that is seen as noble – social justice – that it hides behind, and a justice system that enforces that power and agenda, you pretty much get the same with the veneer of legitimacy and democracy.

Obamacare was just another step in that direction. One that was set up to allow the political class to basically define healthcare to be whatever government decided it was whenever it wanted, by basically completely destroying the limitations the constitution placed on the federal government. The bonus plan I believe is that even if it were to fail this dastardly constitutional challenge, they hoped it would it would come too late and with such pain that it all but set up the system to allow them to achieve the real goal: a single payer system.

Look, I do not for a second believe that the left hasn’t spent the last half century passed law after law to increase the power & control of the federal government on healthcare system to make it better. Sure, that’s what they told us, but the intent has always been a government controlled system. But as long as the one we had worked well, they where never going to sell the public on this idiotic notion we all could see fail everywhere. Hence the massive and idiotic mountain of regulations and mandates, coupled with the bull about healthcare being a ‘right”, which have brought the existing system to the brink of implosion. And like they did when their regulations caused the recent economic disaster – they chose double down on even more meaningless regulation, while not just keeping the fundamental underlying problem that they want to use the lending industry to social engineer, but expanding on it – this is just more of the same.

The game is to overload the system till it brakes and people HAVE to accept the government controlled single payer system they want. Obamacare took the next step, and as Reynolds put it, basically decided to make the case that there should be no limits on what the federal government wants to do if they claim it is for the welfare of people and to regulate commerce or some such nonsense. Have no doubt that next step was the plan:

There are always arguments about the precise scope of delegated powers, and such arguments have regularly come before the Supreme Court. But it is one thing to argue about the precise extent of limits to enumerated power, and it is another thing entirely to deny their existence.

And there you have it in a nutshell. The left doesn’t care right now: they hold the reigns of power, and their guy is pretty blatantly willing to do whatever to push their power to new heights. What can go wrong? After all, this is about doing a good, nay great, thing. Healthcare is a right, and we should all get it for free! Never mind that there is nothing that’s free, ever. So here we get the left, perplexed that even some of the leftists on the SCOTUS is weary of this dangerous usurpation of power, but the problem is a simple one with dire consequences.

Will the court be willing to remove the “almost” and let Congress do anything it wants under the commerce power? I don’t know, but if it doesn’t go along with Obamacare, don’t blame Donald Verrilli. Instead, blame — or, rather, credit — the Constitution.

Be afraid. Our media is doing us a disservice not pointing this out too. But what’s new? Obamacare isn’t even about healthcare: it is about removing any limitations from the feds. While you might have no problem with that today because your team has the reins of power, think about what it means when they don’t. Of course, the left has figure that once they take power they won’t ever lose it again, but then again, even the Supreme Soviets learned that lesson eventually.

We Will Decide How Much You Can Keep

The “Speaking Of Geniuses” thread is still active, your money and how much of it you get to hold on to is near and dear to everyone’s heart, but for you corporate tycoons and runners of businesses, remember one thing, Washington wants what is yours and will legislate to steal it:

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

I know that was a lot to digest, let me break that down for you:

1) Six Democrats (the party that keeps tripping over themselves waving their capitalism bona fides) thinks it is a good idea to limit capitalism.
2) They want government to decide how much money you can make and at what point every dollar over that gets taxed at 100%.
3) Unclear of what that level should be (we will decide that later, trust us).
4) They are only targeting one small portion on one sector of the economy (the sale of oil and gas).
5) The president gets to decide who sits on that regulatory board (no qualifications are mentioned, those obviously being only limited to abide by his notion of fairness).
6) Congress gets no say regarding the appointees, further strengthening the power grab of executive order, and consistent with his attitude lately of ,”Congress? I don’t need no stinkin’ Congress”.

Funny, but I don’t hear about any movement to limit the profits of grotesquely obese filmmakers, or penis nosed pasty white skinned talk show personalities. In the last few days my local paper has been populated with stories regarding Tim Lincecum, and whether the Giants will pay him $21 million for next season, all for throwing a baseball.

But Kucinich, being the good greeny that he is, he wants all this tax money to go down that alternative energy rathole, there has got to be more Solyndra’s out there.

This clearly could be a golden goose. Start out with the oil industry, then move on to financials, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, consumer stables, utilities, hell, the sky is the limit.

If these 6 little monkey’s in a barrel were so concerned about high gas prices, where was their leverage (and now where is the outcry) in getting Obama to approve the pipeline? If we are to glean any themes from the president’s actions, he wants to keep unemployment high, gas prices high, and America dependent on foreign oil (and the enemies that produce it).

I’m trying to think of some stupid stuff that Congress (or members of) has proposed lately that would rank on the idiocy level with this. No, it won’t pass, but still, it shows you the type of people there that can and do influence our lives.

I knew this was all politics and not about solutions…

In a move that pissed me off, the congressional republicans buckled and offered the democrats $300 million in new taxes, only to have the democrats rebuff the offer, now making it all but obvious that their intent from the beginning was to have the special debt-reduction committee, which has two weeks left, fail for political reasons.

Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.

But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.

Democrats said the tax increases in the GOP offer would be dwarfed by major new tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest households, including a reduction in the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.

“They’re anxious to promote a certain concept with all of you,” Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the negotiators, told reporters. “I’ll be very clear that whatever they put there doesn’t get the job done.”

Oh, sure the democrats, whom have made it very clear that they want to get a minimum of one to one ratio on new taxes, or as the propaganda machine calls it, new revenue, are demanding a dollar in new taxes for each dollar in cuts – that way big government stays big, and they can keep buying votes – and blame the fact republicans will not acquiesce for their thumbs down. But lets be honest here and point out that any kind of deal would be turned down by the democrats, because if they make one Obama loses his most potent weapons – the “Do Nothing Congress” accusations that pretend republicans also control the Senate and not Harry Reid, whom has blocked everything the House has send him – and that’s not gonna happen. The republicans seem to know this.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back that Republicans are “working diligently to get a solution” and accused Democrats of trying to block a deal. McConnell said he suspected that “the folks down at the White House are pulling for failure because, you see, if the joint committee succeeds, it steps on the story line that they’ve been peddling, which is that you can’t do anything with the Republicans in Congress.”

Right on Mitch. And the democrats continue to ask for what they know the republicans can and should never give them.

Members of the supercommittee had planned to continue talking Tuesday afternoon, but a bipartisan meeting was abruptly canceled, and neither side appeared optimistic about the prospects for a breakthrough. “I have yet to see a real, credible plan that raises revenue in a significant way to bring us to a fair, balanced proposal,” Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Democratic co-chairman of the panel, told reporters.

These request for insane tax hikes, in fact, as far as I am concerned for any tax hikes that isn’t one where the 47% that today doesn’t pay any taxes now have to pay them too, need to be DOA. And that’s because these “cuts” all come in a decade, long after Team Obama is gone, while the taxes happen yesterday. That’s basically a guarantee that the nanny-staters will keep spending like they are doing now, racking up the deficit to grow the collectivist dependant base they depend on for votes, then the cuts never happen. Fuck that. That’s why this:

Late Monday, some GOP supercommittee members finally crossed the anti-tax line that their leaders had drawn in the sand. In a meeting that dragged on nearly to midnight, Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) and Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan, presented a new proposal to Democrats Kerry, Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.).

Pisses me off. If they give into them now, the commiecrats will just keep saying no until they either get the ridiculous 1 for 1 option they want, which to put things into perspective means they want $1 trillion in taxes now for the promise of a $1 trillion cut 10 years from now, or they will kill the thing, and give Obama his campaign bumper sticker. The fact that the do nothing congress is courtesy of Harry Reid will never be mentioned by the LSM.

Blow the Houses Up

This is the first of two posts, one on housing, one on banking. I’ll post the second one shortly.

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the financial waters our dumbass government decides to resurrect the housing bubble — or at least try to.

First, there is the effort to maintain the high limit on conforming loans — that is, the loans that Fannie/Freddie will backstop. The upper limit on these loans recently declined from $730k to $625k (preferably on its eventual road to $0). But the Senate has passed an extension of the high limit under the apparent impression that poor people need the lower interest rates that come with conforming loans to buy their million dollar homes. Fortunately, the House is less keen on this idea.

And yet, it only gets better! Here comes Johnny Isakson (R-Real Estate Industry) with the SAVE Act. What the hell is the SAVE Act? I’m glad you asked.

The SAVE Act would require lenders to take into account, when underwriting the loan, potential savings from various energy savings features of the house. If a new appliance reduced your electric bill, Congress would require that the lender allow that ”savings” to used to bid for a higher priced house. The impact of the bill would be to allow for even higher debt-to-income ratios on the part of borrowers, as if high mortgage to income payments has had nothing to do with the mortgage crisis we are in.

Perhaps worse the bill would also direct appraisers to include energy savings into the value of the house. Sadly this is anything but “sensible accounting”. As any decent appraiser knows, a house is worth what someone will pay for it, not what the value of various improvements are. That’s why most residential appraisals are based upon comparable sales, and not simple cost or revenue accounting (marginal theory of value, anyone?).

My desk has a dent from me banging my head on it every time I read these stories. Is this not what got us into this mess? Complicated loans that no one understood that were predicated on the idea that housing prices would go up? Now we’re getting complicated loans that no one understands predicated on the idea that “green technology” will make houses more valuable. My developer in Texas trumpeted green building methods. It was nice but it didn’t make us pay more for the house. My current house is about as green as a black steer’s tuckus on a moonless prairie night, but I still bought it because the neighborhood was perfect. If green housing is worth more to buyers, the market will tell us.

No one in Congress is qualified to run the housing market. They need to stop pretending they can before they fuck things up even further.

You can’t make this stuff up Solyndra update edition

The latest revelations in the whole disastrous fiasco around Solyndra, one of the Obama Administration’s new green jobs model companies, are unbelievable, as can be seen from this ABC News article on the subject.

First off, it now looks like the Obama Administration had DOE operatives keep a close eye on the “going ons” at Solyndra, because of the concern that the fears that republicans had expressed that the company was in dire straights, might have been true. And yet, these geniuses – likely because they have never held a real job in the real world – never suspected anything was awry.

Worse to me still, is how it now looks like Team Obama told Solyndra that they would put the US tax payer up as guarantors of any investment debt if Solyndra went bankrupt as shown here:

In 2009, the Energy Department put Solyndra’s application on a fast-track for approval, and announced the award with great fanfare. The generous terms of the government loan included the lowest interest of all the green projects benefitting from Energy Department help, iWatch News and ABC News found.

And as part of the deal, the Energy Department agreed that if the company went bust, private investors could recoup their losses before the government. Republicans in Congress called the investment “a bad bet” and said it “put taxpayers at unnecessary risk.”

So we might not only be out the loan amount, but be held liable for even more. How in hell do you say did this happen? Well here is the money quote:

One of the lead private investors in Solyndra was an Oklahoma billionaire who served as an Obama “bundler,” raising money during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The bundler, George Kaiser, has declined to comment. His firm, Argonaut Ventures and its affiliates have been the single largest shareholder of Solyndra, according to SEC filings and other records. The company holds 39 percent of Solyndra’s parent company, bankruptcy records filed Tuesday show.

Someone that raised big money for Obama got special favors! I guess when you are hoping to raise a billion dollars for your reelection, you need to break a few eggs. This smacks of the whole Buddhist Monk-Wu Chinese connection the Clintons went through. At least Obama did not do it to help a foreign country but one of those Wall Street big business people he so likes to demonize.

But these incompetents, lacking any real world business experience or true economic insight, where had, as the fact that they where still touting this company as a successful model of their green jobs plan a few weeks back, proves. These are the people running the economy and telling us we need to let them throw almost a thousand times what they flushed down the toiled dealing with Solyndra, on a new “Jobs plan”.

And better yet the bad guys, those republicans that pointed out something smelled fishy here only to be severely chastised by their fellow travelers of the “ass” persuasion, now are vindicated and come out as those that actually had the back of the American tax payer and people, while the drones that attacked them for daring to question the one now have some explaining to do:

Republican members of the House have said that bankruptcy indicates the deal was doomed from the start. Now, even Democratic leaders are questioning whether Solyndra misled the government.

“Less than two months ago, Mr. Harrison met with us and other Committee members to assure us that Solyndra was in a strong financial position and in no danger of failing,” Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, and Henry Waxman, D-California, wrote to Republicans leading the investigation. “These assurances appear to contrast starkly with his company’s decision to file for bankruptcy last week.”

Not surprised to see Waxman’s name in there. The guy is a freaking loon with no understanding of how the real world works. Think it will hurt him or DeGette a bit? Me neither? If things go the way they have always gone, these massive failures will actually result in boosts for their credibility amongst the intelligentsia and the progressive serfs. Can we aford any more from these people? Seriously.

A Portent Of Greatness?

The reasons behind dismal congressional approval ratings are rather obvious, not only is finding D.C. types that “get it” harder then what Lot went through in his search for 10 righteous men in Sodom, but it is clear to everyone that getting anything done is secondary to sticking it to the opposition and looking good doing it. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my lifetime where universal derision has not been higher and the confidence of the people in the system has not been lower. But just when you think we are beyond saving and start looking at Canada or Australia (yeah, I have) someone comes along that could be “the one”, Marco Rubio is looking real good right now:

It’s been obvious for a while now that congress critters don’t make speeches in the chambers to convince or persuade, impossible, but they do it for dissemination to the folks, constituents and normal people out there who they can possibly inform and impress, voters.

I like the fact that Rubio covered many of the topics we have discussed here, the MIA Senate in passing a budget, the duplicity of the pres and VP wrt their waffling opinions of raising the debt ceilings in the past, the truth about what is really motivating the credit agencies and their threats of a downgrade, the way business in done there in general and the politics behind it, but mostly that stuff is broke. The system, the tax code, S.S., medicare, medicaid, the uncontrollable size of government, all broke, and even when you have a consensus that something needs to be done, nothing gets done.

Rubio is young, inexperienced, and a neophyte, a stranger in a strange land, but it appears that he is learning quickly.

I have heard several appeals in the blogosphere and from media types that although the presidential candidacy is wide open, the VP slot is a lock, and that better go to Marco Rubio. I need to do more research on the matter to formulate an opinion on whether that would be a wise move or not. But one thing is clear, the Tea Party has given us 4 or 5 young guns, people that get it and want to fix Washington, and no star is brighter than Marco Rubio.

Fuck the Both of Yous

This really captures how I feel:

Over the course of history, Congress and the White House have seen highs and lows. Times that can be remembered with pride and other times when politicians failed to meet the American people’s expectations. Right now, we are at a very, very low point—the worst I’ve seen since I moved to Washington in September 1972. Never in my memory have both parties and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue appeared as dysfunctional as they do today. The stakes are so high and the performance is so utterly disappointing. The goals of most of the debt-ceiling proposals being debated are so modest that victory would really be a defeat in terms of what needs to be done.

My wife told me recently about a Facebook post by an acquaintance that held Congress up to ridicule. Apparently, the sentiment was enthusiastically endorsed by people who spanned her entire network of friends—from the most liberal to the most conservative. My wife couldn’t recall anything else that had been so universally embraced by such a politically diverse group of people.

I’m sympathetic to the points made by Krauthammer and Carney that we are dealing with fundamental philosophical disagreements. “Acting like adults” is not going to erase these serious differences of opinion. However, fundamental political difference is not new. Reagan’s vision for America was quite radical in its day; we still got budgets passed.

No, this is political. Republicans don’t want to give Obama any kind of “victory”. And Democrats want to kneecap the only competent Speaker the GOP has had since Early Gingrich. Why else would they not give Boehner any votes on the current bill, even though it’s similar to the Reid bill that they will vote for? (As McArdle said on Twitter: If Harry Reid is the only thing standing between us and disaster, it’s time to break out the asbestos underwear.)

The problem is especially glaring when the long-term solution is obvious and has been for a long time. As this thing drags on, the wisdom of the Simpson-Bowles proposal — with tax reform, retirement age hikes and defense cuts — becomes clearer. It’s at least the basis of what a reasonable compromise between the competing political philosophies. But right now we have two parties who seem to be more interested in placating their own internal sects than working out a deal. Their big worry is being primaried by the Tea Party (if they’re Republicans) or everyone else (if they’re Democrats). But by trying not to piss off anyone, they’re only succeeding in pissing off everyone. If we have a financial crisis, they’re going to get primaried anyway. The choice is no longer between winning re-election and not winning. It’s between going down while accomplishing something or going down while accomplishing nothing. The Democrats got hammered in the last election; but that didn’t unpass Obamacare. Who cares if the GOP loses in 2012 if they’ve made huge inroads on our debt problem? I would gladly take four more years of Obama if it got us something like Simpson-Bowles.

The thing is that … hang on … I’m preaching to the choir. Let me address Congress directly for a moment. Later, I’ll put up a post on normal-people stuff.

Dear Gasbags:

We don’t like politics. I know it obsesses your every waking moment. You go to bed dreaming of political victory and wake up thinking of humiliating your enemies. But most of us don’t care that much. I’m a political junkie and even I don’t care that much. Here is a short list of the thing that have occupied more of my brain space than your petty games just this morning: my daughter, Disney princesses, astrophysics, booking plane flights, the Braves-Pirates series, the NFL lockout, how good Harry Potter 7B was, how awful the Battleship trailer looks, what I’m going to do on vacation, what I thought about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, what I thought about the Comedy of Errors, where I should have lunch, whether we can make Sal 11000 Beta’s gymnastics class, how I’m going to get tickets to a minor league baseball game and how much moss I can scrape off a picnic table with an empty Coke can.

See? We do a lot out here. We work, we play, we spend time with our friends and families. Washington, to most of us, is an occasional annoyance. We tolerate your stupid childish games because it serves a purpose. Government helps create the space in which we can enjoy the things we do care about. And politics keeps people like yourselves out of important jobs where you might be able to cause real problems. But we don’t care about your little internal snits and quarrels and re-election prospects any more than we care about inter-office gossip at the cable company. You’re a utility, not family.

You’ve been trying very hard to get our attention lately. From regulating our jobs to death (20% of jobs now need government permission) to making our taxes ever more complicated to sending the stock market and then the housing market on a roller coaster. We’re paying attention, sort of. But really, we mostly want it to just go away.

However, you’re getting close to end of our patience. If you don’t figure out a solution to this; if you run headlong into the most preventable financial crisis in history, you’ve had it. Personally, I will wash my hands of both of yous. I will vote for fucking Ralph Nader before I vote for either of you. Hell, I might vote Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before I give the keys back to your competing fleets of clown cars.

The deficit was not invented when Barack Obama became President. Nor was it something that was sprung by surprise on him by the Republicans. Of all the people in Washington, there may be a handful that have no blame in what’s happened. You don’t really need to waste all this time and effort blaming each other. We’ll happily blame both of you.

The framework for a solution was laid out before you a year ago. Yes, if you support something along the lines of Simpson-Bowles, your base will erupt and you might get unelected. But that’s going to happen anyway. We didn’t elect you to get re-elected. We elected you to make hard and possibly unpopular choices that may piss us off, may turn us against you but are necessary for the country to function. We elected you to fall on your swords, not to position yourselves for 2012. This is bigger than whether or not Barack Obama gets re-elected next year.

If we have to pay more taxes, we will. We’ll do it rather than let our children pay those taxes with interest. If we have to wait a couple more years to retire, we will. We’ll do it rather than bankrupt our nation. If we have a few less tanks to keep those Canadian hordes at bay … well, we’ve all got guns. We’ll be fine. My home state of Pennyslvania fielded one of the world’s largest makeshift armies last year and won a decisive victory over several hundred thousand deer.

Just fucking do it. If you have to temporarily extend the debt ceiling to work out the details, fine. We’ll manage. But quit playing these bullshit political games because we don’t fucking care about your petty little rivalries and ambitions and Fox News/MSNBC talking points. Quit kicking the can down the road. Turn off the cameras, log off of Twitter and do it. You don’t need another commission — you had a great commission last year and have so far ignored it. Start with that framework and build from there.

Because we would really like to go back to ignoring you.

Snatching Defeat

The House failed to vote today on the Boehner debt ceiling bill. There are, apparently, too many Republicans holding out as well as all the Democrats. As a result, credit default swaps on US treasuries are at the highest they’ve been since the 2008 financial crisis.

I tweeted this some time ago and the more I watch this unfold, the more I’m convinced it’s going to happen. Three years ago, Congress failed to pass TARP. When they did, the financial markets freaked and nearly melted down. Congress then rapidly passed a TARP bill that was worse than the one they defeated.

This is going to go down the same way. Tomorrow or Monday, the markets are going to freak. They’ve been holding back, hoping for a deal. But until the freak, Congress is going to continue to fuck around, living in their little sound bite fantasy world. When they do finally get the message, we’ll get a rapid deal that will be far worse than what we could have gotten weeks ago. Such is the price of ideological purity.

The thing is, even passing a deal many not spare the rest of us from the pain. Interest rates will still go up — effectively erasing any budget cuts. Treasuries may even be downgraded. At this point, it feels like we’re just going to stave off disaster. We could have had much more.