All of Connecticut is horrified by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. What madness could drive someone to open fire on children, let alone the people who care for them every day?
Hearts everywhere go out to the Newtown victims, their families and the community. This is devastating, numbing, anguishing news.
It is each time we hear it. And Americans hear it far too often. Earlier this week, an unhinged young man shot two people dead at the Clackamas Town Center mall in Oregon.
Gun violence is a constant companion of the residents of Connecticut’s cities. The state still carries the collective memory of the lottery shootings in Newington in March 1998, when a disgruntled employee killed four co-workers, and the 2010 rampage at Hartford Distributors, in which nine people died.
Americans may argue about whether their country is dominated by a pro-gun culture. But this much is certain, attested to by the Newtown school shooting: It is far too easy in America for a sick mind to find a gun and use it.
The Hartford Courant
A Washington Post-Pew Research poll last week said that, if the fiscal cliff talks “fail,” Americans will blame Republicans in Congress (53 percent) more than they will President Obama (27 percent). Makes sense: Obama won the election.
But, do elections matter any more? Remember, we would not be looking at a “fiscal cliff” right now if it weren’t for the gravely irresponsible, and highly undemocratic, fight over raising the debt ceiling that Republicans provoked in 2011. That was supposed to be a vote to pay the bill for government spending already authorized, something past Congresses had done routinely. It had nothing at all to do with the deficit or the debt — or taxes or spending, for that matter. Those are all issues, each of which deserves serious debate.
Instead, Republicans brought the nation to the brink of default, effectively blackmailing Obama to make a deal or risk a possible global meltdown. The deal was the mix of tax increases and mandatory across-the-board cuts to government programs due to take effect Jan. 2 — what’s known as the “fiscal cliff.” Except, of course, no one intended these cuts to happen, either.
If this seems like an insane approach to governing, that’s because it is. Yet, Republicans seem ready to do it again: House Speaker John Boehner recently vowed that raising the debt limit would depend on massive spending reductions (that, typically, he refused to enumerate: That’s for deals done in back rooms.) Some Republicans reportedly are considering a surrender now on letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthy, but staging another crisis in a few months when a debt-ceiling vote comes due. And another one after that, and after that.
So, President Obama should hang tough on his pledge to not negotiate with the debt-ceiling gun to his head. Declaring last week that it is “a game I will not play,” Obama is asking business leaders in particular to pressure Republicans to allow the debt ceiling to rise automatically, thereby preventing an annual (or even more frequent) set of fiscal cliffs in the future. Getting rid of this ploy is the only chance the nation has to reassert anything approaching rational budget negotiations.
Philadelphia Daily News