Let’s take them all to the woodshed!

OK, here’s the plan: You and me find the biggest, nastiest paddle that’s ever been made. We take it down to Washington, D.C. And then we use it to whip about 536 asses. 

Yep, you guessed it. I’m talking about President Obama and every member of Congress. Because the way they’ve been acting in this debt ceiling fiasco. It’s like they were all 10 years old, and out in the schoolyard, fighting over a ball, or a bat, or a bicycle, with everybody yelling, “No, it’s mine! No, it’s MINE! No, it’s MIIIINE!”

We were waiting for the adult in the room to come forward. But after the last few days of closed-door meetings, followed by dueling press conferences, followed by warnings of how one chamber won’t pass or even consider the other’s proposals, followed by threats by Obama to veto anything he doesn’t like, debt ceiling expiration date be damned, we’ve realized to our dismay: There aren’t any adults there. They may be adults in terms of years, but in behavior, they throw tantrums, tell us they’ll hold their breath until they turn blue if they don’t get their way,  and they tell us how we’ll all be riding through hell in a gasoline overcoat if the other side wins.

Juveniles. Immature. Spoiled. Especially the latter.

Of course, if they really were kids on a playground, they’d yell and argue, maybe get into a fight — and half an hour later they’d all be playing together again as if nothing had happened. But that won’t be true of our overgrown, overweening “leaders.” The scars left by all this bickering will take a long time to heal.

And meanwhile, all the rest of us are left to wait, and worry, and wonder, because no one seems to be able to tell us for sure: What happens if Aug. 2 passes, the current debt ceiling expires, and they’re still arguing, having accomplished nothing? Will our Social Security checks, veterans benefits, Medicare, armed forces paychecks, be sent out? The president said the other day he “couldn’t guarantee” they would. Others, mostly on the Republican side, have said there’s more than enough money coming in (not from loans) each month to take care of the federal obligations I named above, plus paying the interest on the national debt.

So who do we believe? Or should I say, do we believe any of them any more? I’m hesitant to. Why should I? Why should any of us? When was the last time you heard a politician say, “Trust me!” and didn’t laugh?

They can’t tell us for sure about the federal checks going out? I can tell you some paychecks that damn sure shouldn’t go out if they fail to solve this debt-ceiling issue, and we wind up with some kind of a financial meltdown: The ones that go to Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress!  

Maybe we should lock the president and all the congressional leaders in a room, and tell them, “Now, boys (and girls), we’re locking these doors and posting guards on them. You’ll be allowed a bathroom break every two hours the first day you’re haggling this out. If it takes a second day, it’ll be a bathroom break every three hours. Three days, and it’ll be every four hours. We’ll bring in grilled cheese sandwiches and water for you twice a day. You’ll have to sleep in your chairs, on the floor or the table when you get too tired to go on. And your pay will be stopped until you come up with a solution. Good luck, folks! The quicker you get this straightened out, the quicker you get to go back to your cushy Washington lives again!”

No, of course we wouldn’t be able to do that. But it’s nice to dream about it, isn’t it? So many of these people have lorded it over the rest of us for years. They draw high salaries, have a multitude of perks available to them, routinely exempt themselves from regulations the rest of us have to follow. It would be nice to get a little of our own back for once, wouldn’t it?

Due to the actions of several presidents and legislators of both parties over a number of years, we’ve wound up in a God-awful mess. The high unemployment rate, the crash of the housing market, the soaring deficits, two wars (or is it three? We’ve never figured out how Libya is to be classified) all at the same time; plus a myriad of other, serious national problems. We’ve hit the Perfect Storm. And it looks like we’re being governed by the Perfect Incompetents.

They don’t want to solve this crisis; they want to score political points for the 2012 election. The Democrats say, “It’s all George Bush’s fault.” The Republicans counter, “But Obama made it much worse.” I think really each side is hoping that this game of “chicken” will wind up with our financial credibility and our economy going over the cliff, so they can point the finger at the other guy and say, “It’s all his fault! So vote for me!”

The plan I proposed at the start of this piece may not sound like much. But at least it’s a plan. It’s something everybody can understand. That’s more than the president has come up with in all this mess.

So, Mr. President; Speaker Boehner; Sen. Reid; and all the rest of you august statesmen who have mishandled things for years, and are now putting us through all this: Line up here. Now, face the blackboard. OK, now everybody bend over …




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