Time for the 99% to reassess America's political landscape

Individual portfolios may not withstand DC's wild rumpus much longer. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, October 10, 2013 – Oh frabjous day! The market’s rallying today! So far. That’s because it’s been mostly happy talk in DC this morning.

So far.

Word is that President Barack Obama will meet with top House Republicans at the White House to seek a path beyond a confrontation that has left the government shuttered for more than a week. Or so everyone says.

With the alleged debt ceiling drop-dead data looming next week, perhaps both sides are looking for a bit of political cover from the increasingly negative fallout over Washington’s current version of kabuki theater.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Congress to raise the government’s borrowing limit before the current cap is reached on Oct. 17, warning that a Republican idea to prioritize payments with cash on hand could cause “irrevocable damage” to the U.S. economy.

Of course, the Senate’s multi-year refusal to pass any budget whatsoever has already caused a considerable amount of “irrevocable damage” as most unemployed or underemployed American workers already know. It’s nearly impossible for any business, large or small, to plan years-ahead goals or activities without knowing what kind of brickbats and obstacles the Federal government might throw at them next.

Yet that’s a sound bite you’ll never see or hear anywhere but here. The government-controlled media doesn’t want you to know the truth. (For more on this, check out writer and novelist Jack Engelhard’s column elsewhere on this site.) Whatever it is, it’s Bush’s fault. Or Bush’s recent replacement punching bags, the Tea Party. Or, if all else fails, the Koch Brothers. There is finally some evidence that the general public has begun to tune out this kind of propaganda. But will enough voters tune it out in time?

Whatever the case, this morning’s euphoria on Wall Street—aided and abetted by the formal nomination yesterday of dovish Janet Yellen as the Fed’s next Ultimate Warrior—could still be short lived.

One meeting between the President and Congressional leaders does not an agreement make. A likelier outcome, at least this week, could be another round of phony victory claims from both sides signifying nothing. The only sure losers in the end will be the American people in general or the vanishing middle class in particular.

For the average American dude and dudette, the last five years have had the look and feel of a prolonged elevator trip down, down, down into the sub-basement of life, or, perhaps, the lower-most circles of Dante’s “Inferno.”


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Washington has saved the banks and the fat cats who have continued to pile up the cash right through the Great Recession/Great Depression II without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, America’s “representative government” and its unelected regulators and bureaucrats have hosed each and every little guy who’s paid his mortgage on time all these years but still can’t get a refi.

Washington has allowed miscreant bankers and lenders to maintain atrociously high salaries and bonus payments with scarcely a slap on the wrist. Where have all those court cases we were solemnly promised disappeared to? Erased, perhaps, by generous campaign donations?

Meanwhile Joe and Josephine Sixpack have either watched their jobs evaporate or have seen their weekly hours reduced below 30 to rescue their employers from having to endure the slings and arrows of Obamacare.

Congressional Washington, however, somehow managed to bail itself and its employees out of Obamacare’s higher costs by subsidizing premiums in order to prevent the salary erosion that these higher healthcare deductions will cause. Good luck, taxpayers. No such goodies for you.

Washington and Wall Street elites live in their own little worlds today, which very rarely intersect our own. Hence, the nonsense in government and the equal nonsense on Wall Street where earnings and losses are trumped by today’s headlines when it comes to the market’s direction.

That’s why we’re not eager to join in today’s celebration on Wall Street. Anyone who thinks that the current budget battles are even close to being concluded has probably not been paying attention since at least the second term of Bush II. It’s all bread and circuses, political theater to entertain the patrons seated in the pits. Any “solution” will be, at best, another flavor of incumbent protection for next year’s Congressional elections.

Re-election is all that matters to politicians of all stripes today. Without their offices and their generous perks, they’d be right down there in the pits with Joe and Josephine, unable to refinance their mortgages, unable to pay off their debts, unable to move to a red state with more and better job opportunities, and unable to find full time work anyway because…well, because Obamacare.

But then again, the past, which is usually prologue, has meant little to nothing in this country since at least circa 2007, but going back even further to the early 1990s. Worse, things are not likely to change until sometime after 2016 when the nation, perhaps, will choose a new, entirely different kind of leader as America’s CEO. Perhaps even one who favors accomplishments over his golf score.

Hope springs eternal that the new guy will try to pick up the pieces and make this a great country once again, rather than passively presiding over America’s allegedly well-deserved post-colonial decline.

Meanwhile, all savers and investors will have to try to hold the fort until real leadership arrives to chart a course for America’s long road back. Assuming there’s anyone left to pay attention and go beyond the mainstream media and the usual self-serving Wall Street pundits in order to seek out unbiased news and actual facts and figures before re-electing their straight slate of local and national incumbents who have already caused irreparable harm to this once-great country.

Whatever is going on right now, the elections of 2014 and 2016 will either seal or repeal the deal. Are you prepared to think this out and then decide?

  —AP contributed to this report

 

Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17

 

 

 


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  

 

 

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