It is unfortunate that both the congress and the president are playing politics with this government shut down. Even though it is primarily the fault of a Republican renegade minority, usually called the Tea Party, and a timid Republican majority, I think some blame has to go to the president for not providing some kind of leadership to resolve the impasse.
The big danger is that nothing will be done in time to prevent the failure to raise the debt ceiling (a peculiar thing that needs some investigation, the idea of a debt ceiling that is) and thus put the nation into default on its financial obligations to the rest of the world. Economic observers warn this could have catastrophic consequences on the economy of the whole world.
As I understand it, the impasse is a result of extreme polarization in politics in the United States. The opposite sides refuse to negotiate, to find middle ground, and instead say to each other: “my way or the highway”.
This cannot work forever. Eventually our whole system of government will be paralyzed and we will drift into chaos as is the case in many parts of the world.
One of the reasons for the polarization is the break down of the political party system. Office holders these days tend to run independently, depending more on their own fundraising than that of a party, and they are more likely to be supported by special interest groups than the party itself, even though most office holders label themselves as Republican or Democrat. This has been made possible by the formation in gerrymander fashion of “safe” districts, where once in office, an office holder can pretty well bet he or she can stay there as along as he or she follows what a narrow constituency seems to support — no compromise among diverse groups is needed. Unfortunately the nation as a whole is diverse.
The Tea Party faction hates the president’s signature health care insurance reform law, even though in reality it might well help many of its members. But people see it as a government takeover, and so many people never read or study things, but instead just listen to their favorite propaganda source and make up their minds accordingly. I want to make it clear, however, that I am neither a proponent nor opponent of the so called Obamacare. I do think, however, that it is going to work and in all likelihood become quite popular in the coming years, much as Social Security did. And that may be what some of the serious ideologues of the Tea Party and elsewhere in the conservative movement may be afraid of. If Obamcare works and becomes accepted they will never be able to kill it.
Some in the conservative movement must understand that the fight against Obamacare is a losing battle. But they are using it as a symbol of costly liberal programs that run up the national debt. Conservatives of course have their own costly programs, but that can be argued at another time.
I find this notion of a debt ceiling to be strange. Why do we have a ceiling if we must always raise it? Why not just have it unlimited? That is the practical effect.
This might not be possible or legal or practical, but other than that, my idea is that should the current debt ceiling not get raised, the president should order bills to be paid anyway, but with the provision that cuts have to be made elsewhere. He would both pay the bills and make the necessary cuts via executive order as an emergency measure.
The fact that we as a nation have to continually borrow money to pay bills and to pay interest on interest is a symptom of our failed government financial policy. In some respects we really do need to hold the debt ceiling where it is and quit spending money we do not have.
The only way a government can get money is through taxes. But there is a limit to how much a government can tax. At some point those who make the spending laws must realize that economic choices have to be made. But much like modern families have done, the government fails to make those choices and instead borrows money. Borrowing money to pay for services and projects is bad enough, but borrowing money to pay back money already borrowed is ultimately disastrous, as many a family finds out.
Necessary economic choices cannot be made in the current polarized political environment. The best we come up with is to add to our expenses without raising the corresponding revenue and thus we get further into debt. And here I will pick on Mr. Obama. He tells us that even though Obamacare will cost a lot of money, it will actually save money by its efficiency. In reality that type of thinking is always dealing with an unknown and can be illusory (on purpose). Time will tell on this one.
Right now President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner need to sit down and come up with a compromise. The Tea Party is right in that the government is too profligate in its spending, but ruining the U.S. economy and that of the world is not the solution.
A compromise that is a real compromise, not just some face-saving sham, such as the last time when they came up with the ridiculous automatic spending cuts (if they can be done automatically then who needs a government?), in which both sides actually give up something (not Obamacare, though — parts of it? I don’t know), is what is needed. And in so doing they should ignore the narrow-minded Tea Party. If Boehner could get a good deal, he could claim credit for it and not even mention the Tea Party. He would do well to ignore them — they might eventually fade away.
And that is a little contradictory on my part, I suppose. I mean concessions on the part of the Democrats might be the result of the Tea Party action. But the Tea Party in its narrowness, its willingness to bring down the government to get what it wants, is a danger. This is not 1776. We are not a colony breaking away from a monarchy. We have a representative form of government. The problem is not enough people choose to get involved as informed voters. And I do have to tip my hat to the Tea Party for taking an interest, I suppose.