EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 1, 2013

Column: With Congress returning, get the antacid

Forget about a good 5-cent cigar. What this country needs is an infusion of common sense. We are about to engage in another round of pin-the-tail-on-the- jackass in a Congress that more and more seems dedicated to increasing the nation’s angst.

Will they or won’t they shove us off a fiscal cliff? That’s what has become almost an eternal question as lawmakers prepare to once again descend on the Capitol following the August recess. Can the debt limit be raised by mid-October or will the government be shut down, depriving even Social Security recipients of the monthly check they depend upon?

The betting has to be in favor of avoiding the catastrophe, but not before lawmakers put Americans through the trauma of uncertainty almost up to the last minute, with a promise that any relief may bring something even more disastrous than the current budget sequestration.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has promised us a “whale of a fight” over the debt increase. At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, President Barack Obama says he won’t negotiate with Boehner’s party on this issue. All this sets another record for dysfunction, which, while endemic in government, particularly our brand of democracy, has become the norm.

Boehner’s mantra is no debt increase without a corresponding cut in spending, and he says he means to stick by it, fair or not. Here is what he told the Idaho Statesman:

“The president doesn’t think this is fair, thinks I’m being difficult to deal with. But I’ll say this: It may be unfair, but what I’m trying to do here is to leverage the political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left to its own devices. We’re going to have a whale of a fight.”

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