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Why do the Dems get a pass on the “shutdown?”

Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, October 18, 2013.

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With respect to the just concluded government “shutdown” and the battle over raising the debt ceiling I will concede that in the final analysis, our own junior senator Ted Cruz, and by extension the Republicans in Congress, probably misplayed their hand. But I will only concede that point if critics of the GOP will concede that tactics notwithstanding, there were principled arguments being advanced.

Call Cruz’s 21-hour talk-a-thon in the Senate grandstanding and playing to the base if you want. It was undoubtedly both of those things. Did Senator Cruz harm the GOP “brand?” All available evidence suggests that he did. The mainstream media is awash in stories to that specific point.

But in the media’s (enthusiastic) enumeration of the foibles of the Republicans, where is the equally valid criticism that the Democrats have coming? And particularly, why so much examination of the politics with no concurrent examination of the policy?

There is much speculation and discussion in the media as to how the past two weeks have damaged GOP chances of regaining control of the Senate and retaining control of the House.

But what about where we stand as a nation? What about Obamacare? What about the $17 trillion debt? What about structural deficits near $1 trillion annually? What about the entitlement state? What about the fact that the Congress has not produced a budget in over three years? What about the Federal Reserve conjuring $85 billion every month out of thin air under the euphemism of “quantitative easing,” which is simply an uptown way of saying ‘printing money?’

These are all serious issues about which those who voted the GOP into the majority in the House are deeply concerned and about which Democrats are, by all appearances, inexplicably sanguine.

If the occasion of congressional authorization of spending and borrowing isn’t the proper time to discuss and debate these matters, when is the proper time?

If journalism were functioning in America, the reporting would go beyond the ‘gotcha’ politics of the moment and would drill down into the actual substance of what separates the parties. (Hint: it’s not GOP racial animus toward the president.)

Obamacare is one example. It is day-by-day revealing itself to be even worse than Republicans warned that it would be. Trying to keep it from becoming irretrievably entrenched is a principled effort from the perspective of Republicans irrespective of the political optics – particularly when those very optics are distorted by a derelict media.

Entitlements constitute another example. In 1965, the U.S. poverty rate stood at 16 percent. Forty eight years later, despite trillions of dollars spent on programs born or expanded under Lyndon Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty,” – and in the now ominous presence of a $17 trillion national debt – America’s poverty rate stands today at 16 percent.

Not only is it fair to question the wisdom of spending borrowed money on programs that produce exactly no result in a half a century of trying, to not do so would be an unforgivable abdication.

The most appropriate time to pose such questions is when you are being asked to authorize even more borrowing. For anyone to suggest otherwise – as the Democrats emphatically have done – is intellectually dishonest.

At the end of this most recent debacle, the Republicans are taking their licks but the Democrats are getting a pass.

The country, and even the Democratic Party, would be the better for it if someone in the mainstream media would ask the question, “What would lead the Republicans to dig in so hard as to cause themselves pain?”