Commentary: Both parties are to blame for debt debacle

We're as fed up and disgusted as most Mercedians with the kabuki cage fight in Washington over the debt ceiling.

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, wrote an essay this week that should spark outrage among every thinking voter in our county and elsewhere.

He blamed Republicans for claiming "that taxing the rich would kill economic growth. This trickle-down, voodoo, supply-side economics is the fig leaf of uncontrolled greed among the right-wing rich."

But Sachs' attack was bipartisan, or nonpartisan, lashing Democrats for their own duplicity in the mess: "Obama's campaign promise to 'change Washington' looks like pure bait and switch. There has been no change, but rather more of the same: the Wall Street-owned Democratic Party as we have come to know it."

Here's his most provocative declaration:

"The idea that the Republicans are for the billionaires and the Democrats are for the common man is quaint but outdated. It's more accurate to say that the Republicans are for Big Oil while the Democrats are for Big Banks. That has been the case since the modern Democratic Party was recreated by Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin."

Sachs calls for a valid third party option to Heckle and Jeckle. The closest we've come to that in recent decades was Ross Perot's 19 percent of the presidential popular vote in 1992.

But we've got another option, homegrown right here in California. Instead of threatening to withhold Social Security checks and soldiers' pay, as both sides of the aisle have done, let's demand a similar scenario that occurred during our own budget crisis earlier this summer. State Controller John Chiang ruled that he'd withhold the paychecks of legislators in Sacramento until they passed a budget.

Over 12 days, rank-and-file lawmakers lost about $4,830 each in salary and per diem, according to The Sacramento Bee.

The pols then trooped back to the Capitol and passed a budget.

So let's tell Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to withhold the paychecks of all U.S. House and Senate members and their staffers.

We bet they'd reach a deal fast.

Editorials are the opinion of the Merced Sun-Star editorial board. Members of the editorial board include Publisher Eric Johnston, Executive Editor Mike Tharp, Online Editor Brandon Bowers and Guest Editor Irene de la Cruz.