My esteemed colleague Pete, on the debt fracas, below: "the whole controversy was ugly and at most minimally productive." To the contrary, I think this was the most important constitutional debate in memory (other than Obamacare, though I admit I am getting old and forgetful). I wonder whether the Tea Party critics have ever purchased a car. Do they pay the sticker price? They used the power they had to educate the people on our disastrous situation. Would the public be more aware of the crisis had a routine raise been voted through?
My high esteem for Senator Coburn has increased. He exposed Grover Norquist's odd accounting on what constitutes a tax increase: Cutting a subsidy (ethanol) would be a tax increase, in Norquist's view. If that's the case, then reform without a tax increase is impossible. To be fair, a cut in the subsidy would hurt the industry being subsidized and cost jobs, etc. The press coverage of the new law emphasizes the temporary harm to the economy, caused by a cut in public spending, though the reforms will have a good long-term effect.
As with Obamacare, the debt ceiling bill exposed Washington's ways. What shocks us about Washington procedure is in fact routine. Congress passes laws that no one reads through and that grant the real law-making power to bureaucracies. That is the problem. That is what the Tea Party, for whatever naievete it exhibits, has exposed: Our routines are rotten.