With word late Sunday that a tentative deal has been reached between the Democrats and Republicans to avoid having the federal government default on its fiscal obligations by not raising the debt ceiling by a Tuesday (Aug.2) deadline, even though it has not been voted on yet, it looks like maybe an economic catastrophe has been averted.
All parties involved have gone right up to the brink of seemingly sure disaster, playing politics all the way.
Now playing politics is what Washington is all about really. But it seems to me there are some things you really cannot afford to play political games with. Money obligations of the federal government to bond holders, be they individuals or other nations, have to be honored, otherwise the confidence of investors worldwide in the most assured investment ever, the United States of America, would be lost.
Maybe the president has done the right thing in whatever he did, but I would have rather seen him let the congress fight out their battles over spending and taxing priorities and simply take the high ground and say: “Well regardless of what you do, the bills have to be paid”.
On the other hand, as messy and even as scary as it has been (and continues to be), the debate over spending priorities is healthy, except there really needs to be more substantive discussion beyond no new taxes.
And for those who wonder why congress can’t seem to get anything done, I just read a story which I tend to agree with: our elected representatives always have an eye on elections, particularly primary elections, and they tend to respond to the minority of people in the country who actually vote. In addition, many congressional districts are so gerrymandered that only the political extremes, right or left, are represented, so that is who they find themselves having to appeal to — and I would add, they also have to appeal to lobbyists who represent money and the power to put out propaganda that moves the minority who actually vote.
There’s actually a lot of blame to go around.
I also cannot figure out what the Tea Party is really all about. If they got what they seem to be asking for and the Social Security checks stopped and all that government largesse, the contracts that go out to businesses small and large, dried up and their Medicare was taken away, many tea baggers might not like it — in other words don’t wish for something too much, you might get it (a government shut down).
But make no mistake about it, the Tea Party has had its say, and we may never be the same again — and that could be good or bad.
Regardless of whatever deals have been made on spending cuts it would seem that all that is just ephemeral. You can’t make a deal binding on future congresses and people tend to change their minds and priorities when things don’t seem to be going their way. The real problem is a mechanism and an entrenched system that seems to promote deficit spending, part of it being constitutional, and part just political. I have heard it said that the founding fathers were concerned that at some point people would get savvy and use government to enrich their special interests (via tax money) rather than just serve the populace as a whole.