Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recent Deficit Discussions

First, I feel like I am flattering the participants when I refer to the deficit discussions as "discussions". My American Heritage dictionary defines discussion as an earnest conversation. While no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, especially closed doors with politicians behind them, what information we do have seems to indicate that while there may have been conversation, it did not appear to be earnest. While it is clear to me that the republican representatives were only interested in talking, not negotiating, I have also heard it said that President Obama offered to double down on the original $2 trillion dollar spending cut plan because he knew that the tax hikes he was proposing would never be agreed to by the republicans, especially the tea party republicans. In other words, he called their bluff.

What a sad state of affairs when the leaders of our country can not work together to solve our nation's problems.

I guess that cat and deer I saw working together to cross the street last week are an example not able to be matched by our elected officials.

The latest "he said what?" that I heard came from House Speaker Boehner. He said that the need to raise the debt ceiling is President Obama's doing, so he is willing to allow the debt ceiling to rise as long as his caucus has an out that they can use to save face with their constituents. It is sad that the speaker and his caucus are in this predicament as they know very well that any budget, including the one they passed earlier this year, will require an increase in the debt ceiling. To make matters worse, the extreme faction of this group wants to adopt an amendment to the constitution that would require a balanced federal budget. Really?! Considering that the military budget was just passed with an increase over last year by those very same people, it is truly amazing that their constituents don't see through their bluster about balancing the budget. As a friend recently told me, the level of economic misinformation among our citizenry is disappointing.

But getting back to the speaker's claim that the debt ceiling is the president's problem. Hmm, let me see. The debt ceiling was raised virtually every year with overwhelming republican support during the Bush years. Since 1980, the deficit itself doubled under Reagan, increased dramatically under Bush I, increased somewhat under Clinton, doubled again under Bush II and is now at a record pace under Obama. If we check who controlled congress during that same time, we find that the house of representatives was controlled by democrats more than half the time, especially during the early 1980's. But since then, it was a republican controlled house during most of Clinton's presidency and for the first 6 years of the Bush II administration.

So, it appears that the facts dispute Boehner's claim. Clearly, the current debt problem of this country is the problem of both parties. It took them both to create this debt, and it should take both to address it. Too bad that both House Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Whip McConnell would rather pretend that they have not been part of the problem and allow the president to raise the debt ceiling on his own. They are clearly more concerned with playing politics than solving our problems.

It will be even more interesting how they approach the deficit and debt should we have a republican president in 2012. Perhaps those discussions will take place with adults in the room who are earnest as opposed to children who take their ball home when they don't get their way.

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