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Raise The Roof DC Style

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, we don’t need no water let that mother f*** burn. There are many things that John Boehner (R-OH) is good at doing: crying, blaming liberals, crying while blaming liberals. One thing he probably can’t do is the dance ‘raise the roof’. I’m not saying Republicans can’t dance. I saw Sarah Palin rap and dance (look out Beyonce). But on a serious note, the reason I’m focusing on this old school dance is because the debt ceiling debate itself is really all about the past. 

Today as the American economy teeters back and forth on the abyss of no return, Republicans seems to be fond of playing kickball off of Mount Everest. Raising the debt limit is really a question of collective accountability. In a democracy, you take responsibility for your government’s decisions, even if you didn’t like them when they were made and you like them even less today. That’s the deal — you don’t get to pick and choose. But in reality the discussion about raising the debt ceiling is all a game of political hackey sack.

In order to solve the long term fiscal crisis, Democrats and Republicans should be focused on tax policy. Solving this crisis will require both spending cuts and tax hikes and will largely be regressive.  As Tax scholar Joseph Thorndike points out “Lower spending will squeeze programs that principally benefit the non-wealthy, including Medicare and Social Security. Meanwhile, tax increases — at least the kind necessary to make a real dent in the fiscal gap — will fall on everyone, not just the rich.The regressive nature of meaningful fiscal reform — including the likely introduction of a broad-based consumption tax — militates for compensatory policy. In particular, it underscores the need for higher taxes on the rich. If political leaders are going to ask poor and middle-class Americans for sacrifice, they have an obligation to make sure that rich Americans share the pain.” Ultimately, it is not about how to ‘raise’ or ‘lower’ the roof, but rather who is willing to make real sacrifices that benefit the long term fiscal health of this country.

Don’t get me wrong, Democrats aren’t the best dancers either. It wouldn’t hurt if President Obama loosened up a little bit. Congressman John Conyers (MI) has publicly stated his disgust with  the President in part because of his willingness to cut entitlement programs due to an “inaction on job creation”. A few days ago Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Donna Edwards (D-MD) all voiced their concern with the White House’s proposal to cut social security and medicare. To be honest they had every right to be concerned. There is always political chatter about holding corporate interests and the wealthy at bay, yet far too often the White House has crawled right back in bed with them like a cheating spouse.

I urge the White House and Congress to not focus on the silly old dance ‘raise the roof’ but to actually do what is right for our country and not at the expense of poor and working class people.