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Testing Whether This Nation Can Long Endure

by on July 11, 2011

Three months ago I wrote an article titled, “On Funding,” about my lack of confidence that the federal government could sign an appropriations bill by the deadline which was fast approaching.  I hope that if I say now as I did then that I don’t have confidence the government can reach a compromise that they will reach a compromise….

To borrow a great phrase, ‘now we are engaged in another battle, testing whether this nation, or any nation so conceived, can long endure.  We are met on another battlefield of that war…’ which is a war over what the government will fund; this time, about limits on the national debt due to default August 2nd.  I have gotten into the habit of quoting myself, and I apologize, but I must quote part of what I wrote in April, because it applies so well now.

There have been past government shutdowns and with the trend in current political climate it stands to reason there will be others in the future….
This is a conflict between a mindset: one mindset says that politics in a representative democracy should be done for political gain, and if shutting down the government may gain political points, it is the thing to do. The other mindset says that in representative democracy, the government must represent many views, and the government must always maintain the ability to function. The first mindset says politics is a game of 50%+1. The second mindset wants the best society for the most people….
Do we cut the $30,000,000,000 of non-security spending for political gain, default on our debt or should we do it because it represents our interests?
That is the question.

People like Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, say there will be “real nasty consequences” if the US defaults, which makes some funny part of me want to see what would happen.  But beyond that funny part of us that wants to see human catastrophe, I don’t really want to see us default on our debt.  There’s no financially or rationally sound reason why we should.  And what would happen?  “The president warned that failure to reach agreement could create another recession and throw millions of Americans out of work, painting a picture of catastrophe if a partisan stalemate is not broken and Congress fails to act. He criticized politicians who say the debt ceiling doesn’t need to be raised.”

A google search informs us that during between 2000 and 2008 the debt increased by more than $4 trillion dollars, and as of September 29, 2008, the debt limit had been raised seven times without comment by the people who now want catastrophe; alternately, the same search says the debt may have been raised five times or nineteen times.

A majority of swing-state voters, those magical states that political scientists pay attention to because of the electoral college, would raise taxes on the rich to begin to fix the deficit.  Not so the federal Republicans, to which Obama responded in today’s press conference “‘I don’t see a path to a deal if they don’t budge. Period,'” accusing Republicans of having a ‘my way or the highway’ posture on taxes.”  As if to prove his point, “even before Obama was finished speaking, Republicans were disagreeing with his insistence that a deficit-trimming deal include cutbacks in tax breaks for the wealthy and some big corporations. While the news conference was under way, Boehner’s office sent two emails to his news list saying tax hikes never should have been in the discussion.”

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From → US Politics

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