Commentary

It’s time for a centrist third party

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BLOOMINGTON — An Economist/YouGov poll puts congressional approval at 19%, while 59% disapprove.

Now why would that be? Perhaps it’s because there hasn’t been any meaningful immigration reform in almost four decades, which is why we have a humanitarian crisis at the southern border, American farmers can’t find enough people to pick crops and there are tens of thousands of unfilled jobs across Indiana.

Or, perhaps, it is now putting the nation on a path to default as Senate Republicans are not only refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling (something it has routinely done since World War I), but are planning to use the filibuster to keep it from happening.

“This is a unified Democrat government, engaging in a partisan reckless tax and spending spree,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have told Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen.

Ahhh, the filibuster. The Indiana Senate and 49 other state legislatures don’t have this archaic tool. Neither does the East Chicago City Council, the Wakarusa Town Board or the Fort Wayne School Board. It would take 60 votes – 10 more than majority Democrats (along with Vice President Kamala Harris) – to break a filibuster.

What happens if the U.S. government goes into default? A Moody’s Analytics report forecasts that it could cost “up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9% from around 5%.”  The report terms the potential consequences as “cataclysmic.”

An Associated Press analysis of data from the U.S. Treasury shows that nearly 98% of the nation’s $28.4 trillion debt predates President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. That includes about $7.8 trillion heaped onto the pile during Donald Trump’s four-year presidency.

Or as U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Neil Bradley told Politico, “The United States of America defaulting on its obligations is not an option. We are counting on Congress to take the necessary steps to address the debt limit.”

Enter U.S. Sen. Todd Young, the senior Republican from Indiana who is seeking a second term in 2022. Young said in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday, “Defaulting on our debts will start a spiral of economic turmoil. Interest rates would rise. The dollar would drop. Essential government workers might not get paid.”

But Sen. Young came to this conclusion: “America must never default on its debt. A vote to raise the debt limit at this point in time is a vote to co-sign on the Democrats’ partisan and unprecedented spending spree. Republicans will not be complicit.”

Here’s why a majority of Americans believe Congress and senators like Todd Young are full of bovine scatology: During the Trump administration, the national debt increased by $7.8 trillion. This included the 2017 tax reforms that were unpaid for. This is when trillion dollar federal budget deficits became routine. When Donald Trump became president, Republican deficit hawks like Todd Young became dodos and chickenhawks.

During Young’s floor speech, he reasoned, “In those days, as a Republican in the House majority, we never failed to raise the debt limit. We also never failed to have a say in the spending that necessitated raising it. And in 2019, we again raised the debt limit, this time through July 31, 2021.”

“Now, Democrats control the majority in both chambers,” Young continued. “With that control, the left has embarked on an unprecedented, reckless spending spree designed to remake America in their own image. $1.9 trillion in March. A $4.2 trillion budget. Now $3.5 trillion on a reckless tax-and-spend spree. You’ve decided to do all that on your own. And now you want our help? When you have a number of options at your disposal to raise the debt limit on your own, just as you’ve gone it alone on this spending spree?”

Young said that a farmer back home told him that “it seems like the butcher wants to build a new slaughterhouse, and he’s asking the cows to co-sign on the construction loan. I couldn’t agree more. If Democrats had treated Republicans as a governing partner these past nine months, I might feel differently. Instead, they’ve treated us as an obstacle.”

Indiana Democrat spokesman Drew Anderson offered this take: “The Indiana Republican Party is proving their talking points about the national debt only apply when a Democrat is in the White House, because if they truly valued fiscal responsibility, they wouldn’t have allowed former President Trump to balloon the national debt by nearly $8 trillion.”

This is why Americans hold Congress in such disdain. Both parties spend money like ... proverbial drunken sailors.

A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday asked which party should be blamed if the debt ceiling wasn’t increased, and 33% said Democrats, 16% said Republicans, and 42% said both.

It gives us little hope that when a real crisis comes about (like the current immigration fiasco or Social Security becoming insolvent by the end of this decade), Republicans and Democrats are unable to join forces and figure it out.

It’s time for a viable, centrist third party.

 

The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.

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