The 1991 film ends with Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon floating timelessly above the Colorado River, having just driven their car over the Grand Canyon cliff. Spared the bloody crash that must come next, gullible movie fans could dream of a miraculous escape. Just like last night. To save itself from a disaster it had created almost entirely by itself, Congress passed a bill that solves virtually nothing. But it had no choice. For while the bill enshrines most of the odious Bush tax cuts and does nothing to address the questions our children must face, it just might stave off the recession that Republicans seem eager to trigger by destroying our government when we need it most.
That concept was lost on both the liberal lobby group, moveon.org, and the Tea Party, which demanded that their followers oppose the legislation. But leave it to Congressman Darrell Issa of California to capture the utter irresponsibility of the Republican right. “I thank all of you who will vote for [the bill],” he said. “I cannot bring myself to vote for it” (i.e., thank you for bailing me out, so I can save the only job I care about – my own).
With the cliff momentarily averted, Democrats must now show they are serious about entitlement reform – not by neutering Medicare, but by ensuring the future of the most important social program we have. Caring for its sick is a fundamental responsibility of every human community.