Dont let GOP get away with debt ploy

Send a message: We don't like the GOP playing a game of chicken with the fragile economy.

As I was driving home from Portland several weeks ago I listened to a story on National Public Radio about the history of the debt ceiling.

Suddenly the GOP strategy hit me between the eyes. They are very serious about holding President Obama and the Democrats hostage over this issue.

Last month, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) left the Biden budget talks in a huff over ending tax breaks for the rich.

We have until early August 2 to resolve this issue. However, if the GOP refuses to negotiate a reasonable compromise which includes a combination of higher taxes and program cuts, then the end-game will be to allow the United States to default on its debt, which will force the Congress and the President to cut or close down one of three programs: the defense budget, Social Security or Medicare.

There is no way any Republican or Democrat heading into an election season is going to cut defense spending, especially when we have American forces engaged in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

So the obvious ploy of the GOP is to force a default, then to cut or gut the two most important safety-net programs in the United States: Social Security and Medicare.

In this light what can a voter do?

In Oregon we have a unique opportunity to send a message, which will resonate, around the nation.

Congressman Greg Walden, who represents the 2nd Congressional District which includes all of eastern Oregon and a bit of southern Oregon, just happens to be the chairman of the House Republican Leadership caucus. That means he is a key strategist for fellow Republican and Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

This means Walden is thigh deep in this smarmy strategy of bringing the U.S. and world economy to its knees in order to cut the federal budget not by billions but by trillions as Boehner has promised to do.

The only way to fight this retreat into another Great Depression is to send the GOP leadership a loud and clear message that Oregonians aren't going to stand for this.

Oregonians have a way of sending this message: to recall Walden as a member of Congress.

It's a blunt political weapon but given the serious issue - and the timing - it's the best way to send the message for the GOP to negotiate seriously with the Democratic Senate and the President.

Power politics is the only tune to which the Tea Party/GOP clique will listen.

Oregon law permits Oregon residents to recall state officials. It's not clear whether we can recall a U.S. Congressman. Such an effort would no doubt be tested in the courts. So what?

The point is to get Walden's attention and to send a clear message that we don't like the GOP playing a game of chicken with a fragile economy.

We can't wait until the 2012 election. Recall Walden now.

Send Rep. Walden your own message that you will support his recall if he doesn't help turn this political version of the Titanic around before we all go down together - seniors, the U.S. economy and the world's economy - in another Great Depression! (You can send an email through his website:

Residents of the Forest Grove School District and the City of Cornelius are understandably upset about recent decisions by their local leaders.

If we let the GOP get away with this slash and burn strategy on the federal budget there will be no money in the till as debt managers around the world reduce the U.S. Treasury to junk-bond status.

Since recall is on the agenda - include Walden!

- Russ Dondero is professor emeritus, Department of Politics and Government, Pacific University. Read his blogs at