The GOP's dangerous arrogance

An American default – or deliberate descent into another economic crisis – is unthinkable to most of global civil society. What great nation would do this to itself – or everyone else?

Robert Shrum

Nationally and globally, the economy is at a tipping point. The GOP, driven by invincible ignorance or cynical design – and perhaps both – is working overtime to trash the recovery with budget cuts that would drain demand from the economy – or a debt ceiling vote that could trigger a financial collapse equal to 2008, or perhaps unpredictably graver. For proof, all you had to do was listen to Mitt Romney's announcement speech today. In it, he made a smarmy attempt to blame Barack Obama for the economic pain actually caused by the dereliction of duty by George W. Bush & Co., pain that was then prolonged by the obstruction of congressional Republicans. Those legislators contrived successfully to limit the stimulus package, block a second one, and forthwith blame the stimulus that saved us from another Great Depression for the slow climb out of the Great Recession. Never, of course, did they mention that the America’s deep deficits were generated by the fraudulent Bush war in Iraq and the unfair Bush tax cuts, which were founded on the false premise that they would pay for themselves.

The same tawdry spectacle has played out for two years and more in America's capitol, a place that is still, despite recently fashionable worries about its destiny, the indispensible engine of the world economy. Indeed, the future of billions of human beings is determined by our elections, in which most of them have no vote. JFK once noted that the proudest boast of the ancient world was the boast of democratic citizenship: Civis Romanus sum: 'I am a Roman citizen.' The inescapable reality of the present world, for better or worse, is that people everywhere have to say, Civis Americanus sum. That's strikingly clear here in Europe, in good times and bad. President Obama is a more popular, hope-giving figure than the leaders he recently visited; he’s the counterpoint to Bush and the redeemer of an American image carelessly disfigured during the first decade of the century.

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