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Ready, Set, Punt!

Solving the debt-ceiling crisis is too hard. Why don’t we just let China handle it?

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The past couple of weeks have been pretty embarrassing for the GOP. For months they’ve said raising the debt ceiling is the biggest thing ever (never mind that they routinely raised the limit eight times in eight years under George W. Bush). They were going to stand firm: huge spending cuts or no deal. President Obama gave them their cuts — more cuts than anyone dreamed of — and they couldn’t find a way to take yes for an answer. Now they’re ready to give up the negotiation completely and leave the decision to the White House. This is supposed to convince America that the GOP can take the lead and get things done?

Our economy’s health is one of the key elements of our national security. Maintaining a strong economy is an act of national defense. So here we are, three years into a nasty recession, and many in the GOP want to start poking the economy with a sharp stick by defaulting? Really?

Knowingly putting America at the unpredictable mercy of its creditors — especially communist China — might be treason. It’s boneheaded, for sure, and may turn out to be political suicide.

It’s important to recall that the GOP controlled all houses of government in 2003 — perhaps the most fiscally irresponsible year in all American history. That was when we decided to pay for the war in Iraq and a new Medicare prescription entitlement by cutting taxes for rich people. The weirdest thing happened: It didn’t add up and we had to borrow even more money from China.

Nice try on rewriting history, GOP, but this is your financial mess.

One Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell, is making sense. Inside his proposal to punt the issue to Obama is an agreement to create a bipartisan debt commission. Didn’t we just do that, you ask, with the Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission? Yes, but there was a fatal flaw. The Pentagon’s Base Relocation and Closure Commission (BRACC), by comparison, did its work independent of politics, then offered a plan that received — and this is key — an automatic up-or-down, amendmentfree vote of the Congress. Simpson- Bowles had no such force, and their mostly sound plan for wrangling the debt was laughed off. McConnell is proposing this new commission get a guaranteed vote, which is exactly the right approach.

Of course, it begs the question:

If that’s the only way to get things done in Congress, what are we paying them for?

Ted S. McGregor Jr. is the Editor and Publisher of The Inlander.

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