Thanks to Steve Benen, the "Political Animal" blogger at the Washington Monthly, for digging up the Fox Business Channel video (below) that perfectly illustrates the hypocritical Republican reaction to the S&P downgrade of U.S. treasuries.
Benen says the exchange two weeks ago between Neil Cavuto, Fox's vice president of business news, and John Stossel "was startling at the time, but seems even more relevant now." Cavuto tells viewers, “I would welcome a downgrade. I really would. I think it would be the pain from which we have a gain.” Stossel adds, “Maybe that would wake people up.”
Well, we just got woken up, with whatever consequences follow. You don't have to agree with every aspect of S&P's analysis to realize that the agency has identified a very real - if political - risk of a U.S. default. Leading Republican politicians, egged on by folks like Cavuto and Stossel, showed and said repeatedly that they were willing to risk a default if they couldn't get their way on a budget deal.
Nor could that deal violate their line in the sand against any tax increases, ever - they're much too afraid of Grover Norquist. Their promise to never raise taxes is apparently so sacrosanct that leaders such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are willing to toss other promises to the winds, such as the promise of old-age social insurance embodied in Social Security and Medicare. As I wrote in my column Sunday, Cantor recently told the Wall Street Journal that it was time for Americans to "come to grips with the fact that promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many."