Friday, July 29, 2011

Angry Yet?

As Congress continues to dither in its seemingly unerringly pathetic charade called 'legislating,' our nation looms ever-closer to that point-in-time when our federal government will not have sufficient funds on-hand with which to pay its bills.  If our nation was literally on the brink of actual insolvency, then Americans would truly have reason to be extremely concerned.  However, such is not the case.  Our nation is not insolvent.  In fact, when compared to many nations around the world ... even those who portray themselves as paragons of fiscal virtue ... the debt that is owed by our federal government (ie. the taxpayers) is at a percentage of GDP that is significantly lower than most of our allies.  It is true that our nation has built-up a large amount of debt: $14+ trillion is a lot ... an almost inconceivable amount ... of money.  And it is also true that our nation, if it seeks to maintain the level of funding and services to its citizens that it currently does, additional borrowing will be necessary.  But, despite what we have been inundated with by the mainstream media over the last several days, weeks, and even months, the "crisis" we face is not a "crisis" at all. 

When I consider the circumstances of a crisis, it typically involves factors which are outside the control of those whom are experiencing the difficulty.  For example, a natural disaster presents a crisis to those individuals, businesses and other entities which are directly impacted by it.  A war in another region or country can present a potential crisis to our nation; particularly if one or both parties to the conflict are allies of the U.S.  Yet, when we consider our present debt-ceiling "crisis," it is important that we realize and understand that any crisis that does exist, does so because a number of elected representatives and senators in the United States Congress have sought to use the necessary increase in our nation's borrowing limit as a political chess piece in a larger partisan political match.  In the past ... as recent as the George W. Bush administration, Congress regularly (and when necessary) increased our nation's borrowing limit (the debt ceiling) with little fanfare or commotion.  However, for some reason (or reasons), which I will not bother to consider here to any great extent, the Republican members of Congress have drawn a "line in the sand," so to speak, and held fast to the notion that any increase in the debt limit must be matched by an equal dollar amount of cuts in federal spending over the next 10 years.  Increasing the debt limit does not allow Congress, the President ... anyone in the federal government, in fact ... to spend any more money than what has already been mandated by legislation already passed and signed into law.  Republicans are not refusing to provide money for future programs.  No ... they're refusing to pay for programs already in-place ... some having been so for decades.

I ask in the title of this post whether anyone is "Angry Yet?"  Are you?  If not, you should be.  I am incensed at the cavalier arrogance of those members of Congress who feel they have the right and responsibility to threaten the fiscal health of our federal government, and thereby the fiscal health of our entire nation (and by extension, that of the world at-large), for purely partisan political purposes.  I could easier swallow that Republicans had suddenly "seen the light," when it comes to excessive spending, if it wasn't for the fact that many of those Republican members of Congress are the very same individuals who were a part of that august body during the recent Bush administration, during which time our federal debt essentially doubled.  And as if that is not oxymoronic enough, those same Republicans, having given billions upon billions of dollars worth of tax cuts and tax breaks to wealthy individuals, organizations and corporations, refuse to consider any sort of increase in the revenue that the federal government receives.  With all due respect to those members of Congress who feel now is the time to draw that preverbal "line in the sand," perhaps you're a bit late coming to the party? 

I do not have any objections to members of Congress acknowledging that our federal government needs to be able to pay for those programs and policies which it enacts.  I have no objections to closely examining all federal spending to determine those things which are either wasteful, unnecessary, duplicative, or simply wrong in concept, and reducing or eliminating them from the federal budget.  But to create an artificial crisis simply because of the leverage that the necessity of increasing our nation's debt ceiling presents, and thus endangering not only the credit worthiness of our country, but to threaten the very health and welfare of those dependent upon the government (for whatever reason) is not only unconscionable; it's immoral. 

Make no mistake about it.  If Congress fails to provide the President with the necessary legislation which would increase our nation's borrowing limit, the resultant financial calamity which could result will lie solely at the feet of those Republican members of Congress who felt it necessary to act in a manner that is far outside anything the Founding Fathers could or would have imagined. 

So .... are you angry yet?  You should be.  And those members of Congress in Washington who have brought about this spectacle should be ashamed of themselves.  We should be able to anticipate and expect better behavior from those who are elected to represent the citizens of this nation.

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