Well, Arizona's Hall of Fame of crazy politicians needs to make room for one more fool: GOP Congressman Matt Salmon, who the fine folks in über-conservative District 5 sent to Washington. Among many distinguished luminaries in the Hall, he'll join Gov. Jan "Headless Bodies" Brewer, who makes Chatty Cathy look like a Mensa candidate; Sheriff Joe Arpaio, one-third racist, one-third birther, one-third media hog; recalled Senator Russell Pearce, who combined the most endearing qualities of Fundamentalist Bircher Mormons and Nazis; and Congressman Trent Franks, who never saw a fetus he didn't love or a poor child he did. So move over guys and make room for Arizona's newest dim but dangerous bulb.
Congressman Matt Salmon is making his second attempt at being a really ineffective and obstructive federal law maker. He was first elected during the Gingrich revolution in 1994, and left in 2000 after three terms, which he had promised to do. But that didn't mean he'd leave forever! Salmon ran for governor in 2002, losing to Janet Napolitano, then he ended up as a DC lobbyist for a communications trade association. Of course.
And now he's back in his old Mesa district—new number, same looniness. During the District 5 Republican primary last year, Salmon faced off against Kirk Adams, who had been Speaker of the House at the state legislature, and of course Mesa being Mesa, both candidates tried to out-crazy one another. No, I will end Obamacare sooner!! I will cut welfare deeper!! I will build a higher border wall!! To prove his 100% crazy bona fides, Salmon sought and received endorsements from the Hall of Fame members above: Brewer, Arpaio, Franks (Pearce is apparently still too toxic). Salmon won the race to crazyland, and his first appearance as a new congressman on "Face the Nation" Sunday showed us why.
Here's a transcript of the real meat of that scary interview, where Salmon compares the 1995 government shutdown to the current debt ceiling debate:
SALMON: "I believe that that government shutdown actually gave us the impetus, as we went forward, to push toward some real serious compromise. I think it drove Bill Clinton in a different direction, a very bipartisan direction. In fact, we passed welfare reform for the first time ever; and we cut the welfare ranks the last decade and a half by over 50 percent. These are good things. We also balanced the budget for the first time in 40 years in 1997, 1998 and 1999, and when I left we had over a $230 billion surplus. This was with a Democratic president and Republican congress.Funny, throughout the 1990s Salmon always voted against President Clinton's policies, and of course he voted to impeach him, but now he's taking credit for Clinton's successes: "... when I left we had over a $230 billion surplus." Yeah, you did that, and balanced the budget too, Matt. So now Salmon thinks it's "about time" for the government to quit paying its bills in order to force deeper cuts to social programs, even though President Obama has already cut $1 trillion over the next decade and he's now the smallest government spender since Eisenhower. But that doesn't fit the Heritage Foundation or FOX News "tax and spend" talking points, and the cuts aren't nearly enough for Salmon, who supports corporate tax loopholes over grandma's food stamps. You get the sense that, in order to tarnish Obama's final term, he really would wreck the nation's, and the world's, economy. For a long time.
SCHIEFFER: "You think that’s a good idea?"
SALMON: "Yes, I do."
SCHIEFFER: "You really do?"
SALMON: "Yes, I think it’s about time."
Tonight on The Last Word guest host Ezra Klein, who has more budget smarts in his texting thumbs than Salmon's ever learned, explained in simple bullet points what defaulting on our obligations means, so the consequences of the congressman's boneheaded statements might penetrate his thick skull.
Klein reminds the congressman that defaulting on our debts is not the same as a government shutdown, which Salmon thinks was really cool; instead it's "the most powerful economy in the world" saying to every other nation that we're too dysfunctional to be trusted. Had Salmon attended a briefing by the bipartisan Policy Center on the Debt Ceiling, as Ezra did that morning, he might have learned a few things about holding the future hostage with his debt ceiling bullshit. Among other consequences:
• the federal government will default on 40 percent of its obligations;
• after preparing for a bare bones government (medicare, social security, defense, education, etc.) we'd shut down the FBI, FAA, federal courts, parks, food inspection, medical research, IRS (no tax refunds, tea party goobers);
• financial markets will go "into complete chaos," credit card and mortgage rates will spike.
And that's a best case scenario, if everything goes smoothly. However, given that federal computers, which spit out more than 100 million payments a month, are not programmed for the default, "the government's payroll system could go haywire." Hey tea party peckerheads in Mesa: looking forward to that social security check? Good luck.
Finally, Salmon says the GOP will use the debt ceiling threat as a means to "reduce the deficit," but the sick irony is that defaulting on our obligations will increase the deficit! A lot. Ezra Klein points out that the debt ceiling debate in 2011 cost the nation $19 billion, and we didn't even default! If Salmon's wet dream comes true and congress refuses to pay the bills, which congress approved, not the president, the deficit will explode and the long-term damage to America's economy will be incalculable. But very bad.
So Arizona welcomes Congressman Matt Salmon to its Hall of Fame of nitwits who pander to the state's tea party base, whose racism trumps their own fiscal well being. Last week Salmon proved how cruel, ideological, and hypocritical he's going to be by joining the "Sandy 67" assholes. Let's hope he has a short tenure in the Hall. Like two years.