I don't know why I continue to be shocked by Congressional Republicans who seem determined to destroy the country as it now stands, but I am.
So, when I read suggestions by leaders like Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and Jon Cornyn and Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon that the country would be better off if their fellow Republicans cause a shutdown of the federal government, my jaw still drops.
The only thing they seem to disagree about is what crisis they should use to close the doors.
Some want to go to the mat to stop an increase in the federal debt limit, thus throwing the country into default for the first time in its history. This would be such a catastrophic decision that it could sink the entire world economy -- it seems that U.S. Government bonds have traditionally been considered a safe investment -- and that's good enough for some of these Republicans.
Others aren't so sure. They think they could just deny the government the right to spend new money -- the debt limit deals with bills already incurred -- and, thus, bring things to a screeching halt.
Now, that has been tried once before. Newt Gingrich and company shut down the government not once, but twice. We closed the parks and shut down the courts and pretty much introduced the country to what government workers actually do. At the time, Gingrich caved. Now, he's going around making speeches about what a good idea it had been.
Honest to God, what's the matter with these people?
The United States of America is the greatest power in the world. It is supposed to be an example of what a free people can be. And it has an elected class that wants to mug it? Really?
And why do these guys want to shut down the government?
They want to shut down the government in order to force the president to "reform" entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. By "reform," they mean cut and by "cut" they mean limiting benefits to young people.
Every "reform" I've seen advocated exempts people like me, who are already at retirement age. Some want to raise the eligibility age for those "entitlements."
Which, if the changes applied only to congressmen, senators and, for that matter, journalists, wouldn't be all bad. None of us really want to retire anyway. We like what we do and we are relatively well paid for doing it.
The truck drivers and day laborers and farm workers, the men and women who have bad backs and no private retirement programs and who have a hard time finding work once they are laid off, those people need the security of retirement. But they don't contribute to political campaigns.
Personally, I don't think the Congressional Republicans give a damn about the national debt. I haven't seen any of them suggest diminishing the defense budget -- which is larger than that of the next 13 countries combined -- by even a dime.
I think they really just hate the idea that a working person might have a little security in life. What I don't understand is why.