Bad Deal, Still Bad EconomyAugust 1, 2011 1:13 PM
After the debt ceiling deal was announced, I kept thinking about a phrase that is said about Asian Americans, a minority in every sense of the national political calculus, especially after our concerns aren't addressed.
That phrase: "Where are they going to go?"
So after the deal was announced, I knew exactly where to go. I went to visit an ailing friend.
She was sick from the economy.
I'll spare naming her to protect the innocent. But she'd be a whole lot better off these days if her name were G.E.
Profits of $14 billion and no taxes in 2010? That's what America has become.
Meanwhile, my friend's story is all too familiar.
"Upside down" on her house, she was seeking a loan modification from a bank, which had been dragging its feet for the last year. Now officials there were telling her to try a short sale. (Where is Elizabeth Warren when we need her most? Oh yeah, she got pulled from the job. Wall Street was scared of a tough-minded non-politician speaking on behalf of consumers).
My friend is in California's Central Valley, the land of short sales. But if she were lucky enough to sell, where would she live then? Could she buy a cheaper, even more undervalued home? Maybe, but her credit was shot. She had declared bankruptcy last year and would need a co-signer.
On top of all that, her aging parents who live with her were falling apart health-wise, and relying solely on SSI and Medicare benefits.
My friend was their real "social security," working overtime at the Post Office, which coincidentally had just announced plans to shut down over 3,600 offices to offset a $9 billion dollar deficit.
Do you think the politicians were thinking for one moment about my ailing friend and her family?
Frankly, it was mutual. The debt ceiling debate was so far removed from their troubled minds, they may as well be living in the Philippines.
In fact, her TV wasn't on CNN or MSNBC. It was on the Filipino Channel.
Still, the politicians could have been thinking more about people like them who pray for an improved economy.
Instead, the compromise moved the debt ceiling deadline forward, saving a U.S. default this week. But that was never a real threat, and wasn't going to happen. U.S. government debt because of size and liquidity still is the global benchmark in a sick global economy.
The deal also doesn't include any revenue increases (meaning taxes on the wealthy and corporations). It did include big spending cuts, with the threat of more if further cuts aren't found by the end of the year.
So we still have our Triple AAA rating for now, but we're still also stuck with our less than Triple AAA political system.
Maybe the deal isn't so bad. Michele Bachmann reportedly won't back the compromise. Not enough pain on regular people? Not enough destruction of government as we know it?
But why weren't the President and the Democrats more willing to fight for folks like my friend and the rest of us?
As the deal stands now, the prospects for an improved economy are as dim as they've ever been. And if politicians end the ability of the government to spend, prime the pump as it were, in order to pull us out of our economic doldrums, what tool is left but to inflict more pain on people who can least afford it?
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was calling the deal a "Satan Sandwich."
In an odd way, it's comforting to see other minorities and members of the broader electorate (specifically those on the Left) treated the same way as Asian Americans have been treated politically all these many years.
I could hear an Obama advisor speaking it aloud to a Reid or Pelosi advisor now.
"Where are they going to go?"
We may not have many options. But that's not what we lack.
What we lack are real leaders.