It used to be said that all politics is local. Today’s Republican Party is about proving that all politics is just politics. The pretense that there is some underlying principle guiding the current push for fiscal reform is just that, a pretense. Conservatives are using financial arguments to pursue a familiar social agenda, and right wingers like Michele Bachmann have made fiscal responsibility and abortion reform two sides of the same coin.

The struggle between rational economic theory and partisan talking points is a frustrating exercise in meaningless chatter that consumes far too much air time and leaves listeners with less of a grasp of the issues than they had when they tuned in. The country is now faced with the possibility that government will be shut down as the two sides argue about the size and scope of proposed cuts to services and programs. Right wingers continue to charge the Obama administration with socialistic goals while progressive opinion has concluded that their hero has gone over to the other side.