I watched Neil Cavuto on Fox News recently as he was discussing efforts to raise the debt ceiling again. He asked the very simple question: "Why?" That's a concise and spot on way to put it!
Once again we are presented with a last-minute "must-have," back-room-negotiated, rushed deal on raising our debt capacity and, in the process, ripping apart previous agreed-upon restraints on federal spending. All of this is being accomplished with a Republican-controlled House and Senate that are collectively scared of their own shadow. The compromise basically eliminates mandatory spending caps with some crazy concept that we enforce caps years later and recoup the extra taxpayer-generated dollars we spend many years later.
As Townhall's Guy Benson puts it, "This is what Republican surrender looks like."
This is particularly true considering that conservative policy experts, in Benson's assessment, point out that while Republican leaders publicly decry robbing from Social Security's alleged retirement "trust fund," this bill does just that by shifting funds to other areas.
So while half the participants in a recent AP-GfK poll said they wanted spending cuts to accompany any raising of the debt ceiling, and well over 70 percent of Republicans took the same position, the fear of political and financial consequences was just too much for a mixed-up Republican House leadership and eternally weak Senate GOP leadership.
In light of this, why would House and Senate Republicans believe that anyone would feel compelled to trust them on any other issues?
Oh, yes, we know the threats. If there's no debt-ceiling hike we would allegedly face financial catastrophe from downgrades in U.S. credit — which is not a guaranteed reality this time around. But playing harder ball to reduce spending in a real way would likely provide more stability to the government's credit rating in the long run. Just like in Greece and, closer to home, Puerto Rico, there ultimately comes a day when the printing presses can't print enough cash, the debts grow too high, and obligations can't be met. What makes the federal government any more immune to being "too big to fail"?
Yes, the short-term fix might be sweet. In my new book, "Newsvesting," there's an entire chapter on defense-related stocks, suggesting that a world suffering from a lack of U.S. leadership would continue to be engulfed in its own arms race and limits. That, along with the likely loosening of recent limits on U.S. military, would lead to huge gains for defense contractors and their investors in the long run. And that is exactly what is taking place now. The debt ceiling deal does at least allow for an increase in U.S. military spending, and defense stocks are on the rise.
While that's great for defense companies, those who invest in them and our armed forces, it doesn't solve the bigger problem: Another rigged, last-minute debt-ceiling/budget deal is hurtling its way toward being signed, sealed and delivered.
So where does this leave the Republican presidential candidates who have to convince conservatives that they won't just talk the talk, but will actually walk the walk?
The answer to that appears to be at the mercy of many elite media organizations intent on rigged "debates" designed to make every GOP candidate look like a fool. To that end, CNBC staged the mother-of-all rigged events this week. One of the first questions was not about the debt ceiling or tax reform. Instead, it was about whether a candidate would admit to the idea that he is basically a comic-book figure. So we knew where this thing was headed.
The GOP candidates were assaulted with arrogant "gotcha" questions from the moderators. The candidates handled the situation well, but once again the well had been poisoned by not-so-subtle messages delivered under the guise of questions.
Is it any wonder that, by the time an ultimate GOP candidate reaches a November showdown with the chosen Democrat, the conservative base can't get excited enough to turn out in droves?
Between rigged deals under a GOP-controlled Congress and President Obama, and rigged debates like the one CNBC served up, the demoralized conservative who is implored to vote may end up asking, "Why?"
Matt Towery is a nationally syndicated columnist, pollster, author and attorney. He is the author of the new book "Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth." To find out more about Matt Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.