On this final day of January, 2023, let’s talk about expectations – we all have ‘em, the only question being what happens when they’re not met.
Americans have only one true expectation for the men and women we send to Congress to represent us – that they take their oath of office seriously and defend the Constitution. Part of their responsibility involves minding the nation’s finances, avoiding excessive taxation and spending within the country’s means, just like every family does at the micro level as the result of those mythical “kitchen table” discussions the media speaks so excitedly about.
Here's a sample: “Bills arrive every month, with due dates. Ignore them at your peril. Bad things happen when obligations aren’t paid. And there’s no bank that’s willing to keep lending you money if your credit rating is non-existent. Money is widely available to practically anyone, but the ‘cost of money’ – interest rates – would be impossibly high.
“Black market ‘loan sharks’ you see in mob movies will lend you cash. But if you don’t pay ‘em back, you get your knuckles broken. Ouch. Or worse.”
So, if everyone with some semblance of life experience understands the basics, shouldn’t we expect the Congresspeople we hire to know the same? They only get it half right. In a piece titled, “Veterans of the Obama-era debt ceiling standoff on the current one: We may be doomed’, Adam Cancryn and Eugene Daniels reported at Politico last week:
“The parallels to the Obama-era stalemate are clear, as House Republican leaders vow to place restraints on a Democratic administration, while also trying to manage their troublesome conservative wing.
“But unlike in 2011, Republicans are preparing to stare down the White House with no clear consensus on what they want in exchange for keeping the U.S. financial system afloat. The prevailing principle, instead, appears to be extracting a degree of political pain for President Joe Biden. And perhaps most worryingly — Democrats, economists and even some Republicans say — there’s little confidence that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has the influence to successfully steer his conference away from the brink.
“’I wish I could look at this, having been through a bunch of these, and say there’s going to be a bunch of drama but this is how it gets resolved,’ said Brendan Buck, an aide to then-GOP House Speaker John Boehner during the 2011 debt negotiations. ‘But I don’t know how this gets resolved. There are just huge obstacles here [that] I don’t think were quite as problematic in 2011.’”
Let’s raise a toast to the “obstacles” that Buck referred to in the previous paragraph! The “obstacles” are duly elected fiscally minded members of Congress who reject all the paranoia spread by the establishment media about spending, debt, so-called “cliffs” and what would happen if the good conservatives hold out and don’t agree to allow Uncle Sam to keep going to the money printing U.S. mint and running wild!
Whatever happened to the wise voices of reason from the beginning of the republic, the ones who were concerned about paying off the debt incurred during the fighting of the Revolutionary War and who saw real doom in excessive government spending and non-accountability?
No one gives today’s lawyer-laden congressmen and senators much credit for deep knowledge of past precedent, but didn’t they study the battle between the early political factions over the establishment of a national bank in U.S. history class? It just might help them grasp the concept if they brought in a right-thinking history professor to deliver a lecture on how the matter was resolved in the early nineteenth century. Back then, at no point did anyone ever argue for unlimited borrowing capacity.
How stupid are the fools today? The swamp rats who harken back to 2011 and worry about a “this time they’re crazy” scenario were just as off-base twelve years ago as they are now.
Those Democrats using the “default” terror to get Republicans to bend is not all that different than a bank robber approaching a teller with his finger pointing through his shirt and mumbling, “This is a stickup. Give me more money to borrow or I’ll run to the press and tell them you’re in favor of starving senior citizens and forcing the nation to go over a fiscal cliff. I want the bills in tens, twenties and c-notes – in the trillions.”
Is this so farfetched? Does nothing ever change? Does no one ever learn? The 2011 impasse was nearly identical to the brewing current brouhaha over the possible breach of the debt ceiling, when many a political participant and observer alike predicted gloom and doom if Republicans, particularly in the House, didn’t relent to Barack Obama’s demands and simply increase the borrowing limit without preconditions. The back-and-forth is kind of like being serially late on your credit card payments, reaching the maximum and then calling the company to demand they hike the number without offering any kind of plan to make good on the money you’d already borrowed and promised to pay back.
We bought a car a few months ago. Should we now take a page from the Democrat negotiating tactic book and say we insist on changing the terms and payment amount? And to threaten them if they try to repossess the vehicle? “Come and get us -- we’ll boobytrap the wreck!”
For most Americans outside the Democrat party and the Republican establishment, this debt ceiling concept isn’t difficult. First off, the United States will never default on any of its debts if it merely prioritizes what gets paid first and then goes from there. Hypothetically speaking, if the government takes in about 80 percent of what it’s spending today in tax collections, who’s to say that an offer of eighty percent of the obligation be paid on day one with a promise to pay the balance when the ceiling is lifted, with interest, wouldn’t be accepted?
Even the most ambitious of credit card providers sees personal bankruptcy as a last resort, since they understand they’ll only get a miniscule percentage of what they’re owed if the borrower goes completely belly up – and the bankruptcy judge will decide who gets what. This isn’t a good situation for anyone.
In Washington’s fiscal fantasy la-la land, however, the truth is, Democrats will get what they want in the end – sufficient Republican support to increase the borrowing capacity – if they’d only come to the table and negotiate reductions in spending that mean something and will ultimately solve (or at least improve) the burgeoning debt issue.
All Congress needs to do is pass a bill with a majority of members in the House and Senate and then get senile Joe’s signature and boom, the problem disappears! So why isn’t the establishment media pressuring Democrats to bend on their very unreasonable requirement to clear more money without doing anything different? This isn’t just a matter of common sense, it’s a no-brainer.
After all, Republicans aren’t saying flat-out “no” to more debt (though a lot of smart people suggest they should), they’re turning against the notion that spending keeps going up and up and up without any kind of reasonable limitations in sight. Democrats are essentially the ones balking here, just because they feel they have the public leverage to do so.
No, they don’t.
Democrats bank on Americans being so dependent on handouts and subsidies that they’ll vote in politicians who don’t give a lick about how much they tax and spend. This may be true for the average low-information Democrat voter – and government employees – but the people who do the work in the private sector understand that non-stop borrowing carries with it its own cost.
Suggesting, as Democrats do, that there will be a political price to pay for holding fast on the debt limit and working overtime to reduce government spending – is just plain false. No one expects that government can borrow indefinitely and not see severe consequences in other areas of the economy. It’s hard to recall now, but there was a time – back in the 1990s – when Congress was darn close to passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. And the Newt Gingrich-led House forced Big Bubba Bill Clinton to accept welfare reform and other budgetary improvements.
All Democrats do these days is demagogue the debt issue, and with the willing cooperation of the corporate media, try to frighten people with disastrous consequences if Republicans don’t capitulate.
Democrats are terrified that this time will indeed be different, and Republicans have finally grown a spine. Americans should be happy, not frustrated.
Again, the nation will never default. All Democrats have to do is supply votes for the Republican spending reforms. What’s more important, Democrats – the nation’s solvency, or your “green energy” projects and social welfare spending? Is this really a “Sophie’s choice” or just a case of Democrat hyperbole? What did you expect?
Sophie’s choice: A choice between two persons or things that will result in the death or destruction of the person or thing not chosen.
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