It feels as though with each passing day, we face a critical, new issue facing our nation. Some have been with us a while, such as the weak economy, stagnant wages, and unemployment. Some are old problems but being seen under fresh light, such as immigration. Some are rising to new levels of awareness and concern, such as relief for hurricane Sandy victims and gun control. But the one that strikes at my increasing level of incredulity today is the debt ceiling.
A little background, if you please.
The debt ceiling is a created dollar amount, like a personal target of spending which an individual may decide not to exceed. It’s not a number cast in stone, it is not a dollar amount having any direct relation to the bills due. Further, although the liability amounts and their scheduled due dates are relatively clear and planned for, income to the Treasury is erratic and not as easily planned for.
Like every large corporation out there, Treasury is required to borrow money against future income to smooth out these fluctuations.
Further, every single dollar of debt has been directed and approved by Congress. Bills are not run up by the President or by any one party or individual; they are only payable to programs approved by Congress. Bottom line, Congress owns the debt.
Here’s where the Republicans in general, and House Speaker John Boehner in particular, come into focus for their ridiculous posturing and antics, for playing politics and gamesmanship with our country’s economic future.
Treasury has already begun moving money around between accounts in order to stave off the moment when they (we, actually) can no longer pay the bills that come due. Further, they’ve estimated that by mid-February even these short-term emergency band-aids will no longer do the trick. Thus the day of reckoning for the debt ceiling.
Similar to the 175 Republican extremists who voted against aid for fellow citizens who just happened to be hurricane Sandy victims, this same mind-set pervades the group who are against raising the debt ceiling. To be sure, they are after selective spending cuts, aiming to hurt the same kind of individual citizens that their posturing against Sandy would have hurt. Only this time instead of victims of a catastrophe, their targets are senior citizens, recipients of Social Security and Medicare. Not the wealthy, not big corporations such as oil drillers, not defense contractors. Nope, just old people.
here’s the piece-de-resistance. These same, cold-hearted Republicans, led by Boehner, speak of “the American people, and that they won’t stand still for increasing the debt ceiling without offsets.” But I ask, how would he know what the American people want? Boehner, whose outer office in Washington is little more than a clubhouse for lobbyists and wealthy contributors? He, whose been quoted in the past as claiming, “Lobbyists are people, too?” He who likely couldn’t tell you the last time he actually spoke to an average American citizen?
Depending upon the poll one looks at, the approval rating for Congress lies somewhere between 9% and 19%. So who exactly are these American people Boehner is so concerned about? Obviously, it’s not the majority of our fellow citizens.
President Obama has an approval rating of over 50%. A slightly smaller percent approve of the way he is handling the economy, compared with a less than 35% approval rating for the way Congress is handling the economy. With these number, isn’t it clear that the House, made up of a Republican majority, is the culprit in the debt ceiling discussion? That they clearly are not working in the best interests of the country, nor even working in support of the will of the country? It does not require a leap of faith to conclude that Republicans are focused on being obstructionists, on playing gotcha’ politics. They are willing to risk killing the already slow recovery and sending the country back into a recession, rather than compromise, walk the middle ground, and do what is right for the country and what the American people actually want.
The Republican agenda has nothing to do with the debt ceiling, and everything to do with a power play against the administration. The American people are of little concern to these far-right wingers, no matter how loudly they protest to the contrary.
But that’s just me…
- Geithner Says Debt Limit Steps May Run Out by Mid-February – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Lots of smart Republicans are terrified of the debt ceiling (washingtonpost.com)
- John Boehner: Congress ‘Never Going To Give Up’ Debt Ceiling Powers (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- House GOP may seek short-term debt limit extension (cnsnews.com)