The founding fathers prepared the United States Constitution for every eventuality that a nation could face, with the one possible exception of deeply entrenched political gridlock, rooted in an intent focus on scoring political points instead of doing the will of the people. It is the will of the people, not the will of all people but the will of the majority, that the United States not default on its debt and protect its fragile economy. At this time, the only way to protect the nation’s economy, and arguably the economy of the world, is to raise the debt ceiling so that we can continue to borrow the money to pay for the bills we have already incurred.
I find it appalling that some of our political leaders, mostly from the conservative side of the political aisle, openly operate under the presumption that America defaulting is nothing to worry about. And some of these people even say that we can default on our financial obligations and our economy would become even stronger. What? Like a lot of people, I’ve missed my fair share of credit card payments. Just didn’t have the funds, I forgot, payments got lost in the mail, whatever. My financial health hardly got better because of it. Credit card companies, banks, and other financial institutions don’t hesitate to jack the payments up substantially with a threefold increase in interest rates. Suddenly I found myself paying a lot more just to keep the status quo. People who have experienced defaulting on a bill or two know what the deal is. Not paying bills does little to give people an incentive to loan you money. In fact, believe it or not it does the exact opposite and you wind up paying more in order to get the credit desired. Protect your credit. It’s why companies like Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and other credit monitoring organizations make money selling us services to protect our financial power.
Even the leadership of second and third world countries know the importance of protecting their credit. Greece, a country right on that cusp between second and third world status and nowhere near the significance of the United States, is working to get the financing so that it won’t trigger a series of unfortunate events that could impact the European countries whose finances support the value of the Euro currency and the rest of the global economy. And with a gross domestic product at a little over three hundred billion dollars, Greece is hardly considered a financial heavy hitter. But nevertheless, people are pulling out the stops to bolster that economy.
With a gross domestic product at more than fourteen trillion dollars, the United States is forty-five times the size of Greece, and its impact to the world economy would be like the tidal wave that sank the Andrea Gail in The Perfect Storm. The United States has gone to war with other countries to protect the dollar and to enforce its reputation as the monetary standard of the world. America’s credit is like gold, you can take it to the bank. At least you used to be able to take it to the bank.
Now, some of our political leaders want to make our economy so unstable that cash would need some kind of collateral to back up its value. Why, because some of our politicians insist on curing our debt woes solely by cutting back on spending. How many times have we heard the mantra that Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. People want to insist that any plan to solve this crisis must be revenue neutral because getting more money into the nation’s treasury is a problem. Some of our politicians insist on protecting the financial pockets of the wealthy, hereafter to be referred to as job creators, even though these people already sit on top of enough cash and wealth to hire an entire squadron of additional workers to any workforce. The reasoning for not raising revenue simply doesn’t add up. But it is true that Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem. What it does have is a common sense problem.
When I didn’t pay a bill because I didn’t have the funds, I did whatever I could to raise the money to pay it. I did what I could to cut back on expenses and I did what I could to raise revenue. I had a combination of a revenue problem and a spending problem that contributed to my debt problem. And politicians should be willing to do the same thing when our national treasury falls short. Go figure.
Back in 2001, when times were still fairly good, government enjoyed a surplus, but a recession was beginning to form on the horizon, the conservatives sold the American public on the idea that a cut in taxes would generate jobs and keep the economy afloat. Back then, we had a revenue problem and we had to reduce taxes to give more money back to the public. And even though the vast majority of that money went to the job creators (formerly known as the rich), jobs started to evaporate. Now that the economy has tanked, conservatives are now telling us that we have a revenue problem and that the only thing we should do is now cut spending. Unfortunately, as soon as we get our spending under control, against common sense, somebody might start selling the idea of more tax cuts again and we’ll be back in the same boat.