Perhaps this is why my left-winger friends (and crazy strangers on the innernets) and I cannot manage to come to agreement; it’s got to do with the crazy way I see things, and the way I see ’em is like this:
Imagine a family that earns $50,000 a year but is spending more than $88,000 with a credit card balance of $330,000. The discussions around the kitchen table are likely to be a little tense.
Proportionally, that’s where Washington’s finances are today, and that’s why the national discussion is a little tense, too.
Even these figures belie the magnitude of the fiscal crisis. Shutting down the entire federal government and firing every federal employee is no longer enough to balance the budget. Mandatory spending – mainly entitlements – consumes more than the government takes in.
As I understand the argument from the left, there is no disagreement here but there is no agreement either. You’ll notice their talking points seem to be — as always — tailored for presentation to emotionally excitable people who aren’t familiar with the actual numbers. Here, let me roughly paraphrase: Forget everything else, we must raise the debt limit because if we don’t it will lead to a some vague, terrible crisis. So since it’s clear what we must do today, everything else is just a red herring.
I’ll not disagree with that. But it does seem to me we were just at this party. Must bail out the savings and loans. Must pass the stimulus. Must pass ObamaCare. Must put cash-for-clunkers into effect. Must, must, must, must — don’t they get tired of that word? This isn’t Europe yet!
We are due for a downgrade to our credit, and ours would be very painful. In fact, we may have exhausted an extension on that, because of the magnitude an the intensity of the pain such a downgrade would cause.
I guess my point of disagreement is — who’s the extremist here? Kick the can down the road, because facing our come-uppin’s would lead to disaster. Don’t cut anything; borrow more; when some jackass politician comes along with a new plan to spend more money — oh, don’t tell me, let me guess it will have something to do with this “crisis” or some new crisis with a heavy overlap with this one — it’ll just be business as usual, right?
Both sides agree we’re in such a deep hurt it will get worse before it gets better. So…because it will get worse before it gets better, start extricating ourselves from this mess sometime later?
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but this is a numbers issue and that makes numbers important. Fifty grand, versus three hundred thirty grand? Deal with it some other time because there is pain involved? And that makes sense because there’s a crisis?
Who’s the adult, here? Who’s the child?
Update: More concisely-worded learnings:
The president is likening the government shutdown that would follow failure to raise the debt limit to that which took place in 1995-96. But in those years, there was a prohibition against spending money Congress had not yet appropriated. Now it’s perfectly legal to spend any money that comes into the Treasury; there just won’t be as much of it, because the debt limit will preclude further borrowing. The president still can fund any 60 percent of the government he wants (the proportion that comes from tax revenues).
In his speech to the nation Monday night, Obama used tricky words to camouflage these obvious facts. He no longer spoke of defaulting on money we owe, but instead used the more vague phrase “defaulting on our obligations.” By that he means our obligations to the bureaucrats, not to our creditors.
Ultimately, whatever merit is involved in the democrats’ argument that the debt limit must must must be raised or there will be crisis crisis crisis, comes down to this: The “must” must win the day, because the crisis is far greater than we can manage to afford.
Um…if the mistake we’re about to make has to do with biting off more than we can chew, isn’t that a mistake we have made already? What did Will Rogers say about when you’re in a hole?