As we start another week with political posturing around the debt ceiling it has become far too obvious how political considerations are trumping bipartisanship and what’s best for the country. For all intensive purposes this is a manufactured crisis. The government can’t afford not to raise the debt ceiling for many important reasons. In the past it has been done under presidents from both parties. Where was all this concern during the last budget negotiations? Since it is a major election season next year, political leaders on both sides are using the issue as a hammer to beat up on their opposition – how sad, yet predictable.
The question you have to ask yourself is, “why did they wait until this point?” Congressional leaders clearly knew this moment was coming as did the president. For the last 10 years our politicians have been irresponsibly spending money the country doesn’t have and avoiding tough decisions. There are obviously opinions across a broad spectrum on why this has happened and neither party has the market cornered on blame or bad decision making. What’s most important is how do we responsibly address our economic challenges and move forward. Demagoguing an issue until the 11th hour is a bit tiresome and unproductive. People can see through the hypocrisy and nonsense.
The only way Washington is going to address our pressing economic problems is to actually confront tough realities and take more of a long term viewpoint. The era of the quick fix is over and I’m not even sure it ever really existed. Both parties need to set aside their short term political calculations and put the interests of the country ahead of their own. In addition, we need leaders who are going act like adults and take responsibility for their actions as well as be up front and honest with their constituents regarding the sacrifices necessary to fix the issue(s). When you are a debtor nation you can’t continue to spend your way out of the hole that you’ve created for yourself. At some point the financial burden becomes unsustainable as many households have found out the last three years.
I realize that most people don’t have a very high view of politicians. There is something we all find suspect about people who run for office and seek this type of influence and power. However, throughout our history there have been great politicians from both parties who stepped up and tackled the difficult challenges and did the right thing. We don’t know the names of many of them because believe it or not they were less interested in celebrity and more focused on getting things done. Mister Smith did come to Washington and has done so many times.
Our country needs to make some tough decisions and deal with some harsh realities if we are going to sustain our “exceptionalism.” No amount of political posturing will change this fact. The current trends are not looking good and we need leaders who are brave enough risk their own careers by speaking truth to power and operating from a higher more worthy purpose than their own self-aggrandizement. A democracy without political courage is like a plane that loses its wings in midair; it won’t continue to fly for very long.
- Jonathan Miller: Debt Ceiling for Dummies: Why Compromise Is so Necessary (huffingtonpost.com)
- Race and the Debt Ceiling Debate (theroot.com)
- Is Either Side Winning the Debt Ceiling Debate? (pajamasmedia.com)
- Debt Ceiling Watch: Ezra Klein Makes a Mistake (Nobooy Knows Department) (delong.typepad.com)
- The despair of a ginned-up crisis (tomjustice.wordpress.com)
- America’s debt clock ticks as AAA credit rating is at stake. (thewiseme.com)
- Revisiting the Debt Ceiling Fiasco (occupytvstations.com)