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Stand up, America! Demand a deal on debt

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Political Contributor
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: In debt talks, GOP and Dems cling to ideologies like a child throwing a tantrum
  • He says they ignore the nation's fiscal reality, try to stay politically pure to pander to their base
  • He says the American people could lose big as the financial markets watch the squabbling
  • Martin: It's time for American people to deluge lawmakers with demands that they make a deal

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- Watching Republicans and Democrats squabble from their ideological battle lines over the debt ceiling is the same as watching a bratty child fall out in the middle of the floor with a temper tantrum when he doesn't get his way.

On one hand, Republicans are desperately trying to hold on to their purely insane ideological position that there must be no revenue and/or tax increases. It is as if these idiots refuse to believe any data that make clear that the massive tax cuts put in place by President George W. Bush have increased the federal deficit.

But they are afraid of running afoul of Grover Norquist and his Kool-Aid drinkers at the Americans for Tax Reform, who are more than willing to protect the millionaires and billionaires in this country, with their jets and yachts, from having to pay taxes at previous levels.

Then there are the Democrats, who have this equally insane belief that we can reduce the deficit and not touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Those three areas, along with the billions we continue to spend on national defense, constitute most of the dollars we spend on the federal budget. And those costs are spiraling out of control. So, of course, we must make some hard choices, and yes, that will mean making adjustments that might upset seniors.

At the end of the day, this ludicrous standoff is doing severe damage to America's credibility in the financial markets. Even toying with not increasing the debt ceiling could have severe repercussions for all of us. When clueless lawmakers like Rep. Michele Bachmann suggest that nothing will happen if we don't raise the debt ceiling, they only prove that they will destroy this nation in order to preserve an ideological purity.

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Right now, Moody's and Standard & Poor's, the world's two leading credit rating agencies, have put the U.S. and our AAA credit rating on their watch lists, with S&P stating Thursday that "owing to the dynamics of the political debate on the debt ceiling, there is at least a one-in-two likelihood that we could lower the long-term rating on the U.S. within the next 90 days."

No party can try to claim that the other is at fault for this perilous situation. Both have contributed to this mess with their unwillingness to make the tough choices. And yes, American taxpayers must also absorb the burden as well, because when a politician makes the tough choices to cut or not fund our every whim and desire, we toss them out of office.

This debate is all about politics. No matter that not raising the debt ceiling will effect every American in a negative way: Social Security and military checks will be in jeopardy; expect to see massive losses in our 401(k) accounts; and access to credit, already difficult, will become nearly impossible. But for Democrats, they don't want to touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid because it is a powerful bat with which to bash Republicans in every election.

We just saw the Democrats win a congressional seat in a hardcore Republican district in New York based on Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal. They know that seniors vote in larger numbers than anyone else, and losing a potent political weapon is unthinkable for them. That's why they are angry with President Barack Obama for putting the options on the table.

Republicans? They are like a suicide bomber when it comes to the mantra of low taxes and smaller government: No matter how much damage is done, as long as they hold their ground, they think they are doing the right thing and are appealing to their core voters. Get mad all you want about the suicide bomber analogy, but threatening to blow up the American economy is akin to committing suicide, all for an ideological purity.

This is precisely why I've despised the labels of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. Damn an ideology. At some point, you've got to analyze a situation and say, "This is the right thing to do."

But all of these politicians are afraid of one thing: losing their jobs. Frankly, it's hard to see how they care about the millions of jobs that have been lost in this economy over the past four years. It is all about those 435 powerful jobs in the House of Representatives, 100 in the United States Senate and the one job at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

This is why the American public, especially the silent majority, must get off their collective butts and say, "Get this deal done. Now." Enough with the Tea Party driving Republicans over a cliff with their insistence on no revenue increases. And enough with Democrats bowing down to the liberal left who say "no mas" to any entitlement cuts.

All of you who sit passively by and watch as the ideological purists make all the noise and dominate the cable news shows must take a stand and say, "Enough!"

Every single American should be blowing up the phone lines and e-mails of their representatives every day until a debt ceiling deal is brokered. Yeah, you may not like a revenue increase or an entitlement cut, but thinking that the other side must shoulder the full burden is just dumb. "Shared pain" is not a negative statement. It's real and necessary.

If the GOP gets its way, we lose. If the Democrats get their way, we lose. We simply cannot continue down this insane path of ideological purity driving our nation's agenda. If President Ronald Reagan understood that he had to accept revenue increases and President Bill Clinton saw that welfare needed to be changed, then President Barack Obama's lead must be followed in brokering a deal where all sides have skin in this game.

So, folks, it's time for you to get in this game. Pick up that phone. Send that e-mail. We aren't in the room negotiating this deal, but I can guarantee you that if Congress and the White House hear from the millions of us with enough common sense to compromise, a deal will get done.

None of us wants to see the carnage if we let the self-inflicted bomb to our economy go off.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

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