(As it has taken me about 5 days to produce this post, it is possible that some of the information contained within may have changed by now…)
Throughout the three+ years that I’ve been writing on this site, much of the time my focus has been on the war in the Middle East and our national security. When much of America was crying out “the Economy!”, I maintained the belief that, (and I still do) without strong counter-terrorism efforts (in whatever form they take shape), returning economic health wouldn’t matter for long. As a result, I never felt a call, or a desire, to turn my attention to the financial aspects of our nation. Except for a post or two, economics was lost to me.
Well, that’s changed!!!
When the ramifications of a national debt default began to sink in…a door opened in my thinking. A big one! I’ve spent much of the last few days pulling up articles & clicking on links of a whole other sort than the kind I usually do! Today I found myself pricing books by Thomas Sowell, F.A. Hayek, Henry Hazlitt – authors whose names I’d never even heard of before but now want their books! and am barely able to wait ’til my next paycheck to order at least one. (Really, I had to talk myself out of ordering it today…amazed that disciplined thinking prevailed!)
As someone who knows next to nothing about this topic, my thoughts & observations may be naive and/or obvious. It’s a huge picture, and I’m only seeing specific pieces, I know, and at the last-ditch moment, too…
President Ronald Reagan made this statement in a September 26, 1987 radio address:
“Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility.” He called it ‘brinksmanship’, and he called it right, I’d say. At that time, according to Reagan, the United States had a strong reputation for ‘reliability and credibility’. Those are priceless commodities, ones the United States of America does not want to risk losing. As I’ve continued reading, I’ve realized that the whole world needs America to be that same country, with that same standing. I’ve realized that America has not only been graced and favored with the honor of being that Shining Light on a Hill, a beacon promising the possibility of liberty for all – but also of being a grounding pillar in the world’s economy, and as such providing an inherent stability & a sense of safety. There is a “…nearly universal conviction that those who lend to us will always be repaid, on time and in full,” according to Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (link) Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, says, “…people really view the U.S. as the AAA, the gold standard…” but believes that such an aura has now been tarnished. Seconding that opinion is White House chief-of-staff William Daley. “There’s been enormous damage done to our creditworthiness around the world, the perception of America as a country that is…solid…” (Meet the Press)
As I see it, that AAA standard reflects much more than credit when it comes to the United States of America. Our responsibility is great, and to many. Yes, it is about us, but it is not only about us.
My questions now are about default, about this debt ceiling. My pursuit of answers has led me to some detailed ‘information’, and left me at times simply confused. But the one conclusion I never would’ve expected to draw from this pursuit is – a certain amount of the situation being presented to the public is perhaps either false, or a scare tactic. Turns out ‘the Donald’ agrees. “Trump said the president is trying to scare people when he talks about a possible default if a deal is not reached by then (August 2, my entry). The administration doesn’t want this dialogue to go on much longer because it hurts Obama.” Scaring people seems to be part of the modus operandi here, especially regarding the Social Security checks situation. In “Disentangling Social Security from the Debt Ceiling” , authors Altman & Scarberry suggest that Social Security issues are being used as a ‘key bargaining chip’, to ‘scare the American people.’ I suppose the idea in doing that is to make us more manageable? To rush or push through (sound familiar? Healthcare reform, anyone?) a plan/decision using the pressure of fear?
(A brief but excellent, easily understood explanation of the actual Social Security set-up: “Obama’s Debt-Ceiling Scare Tactics” by a former trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds.)
At a very general level, I’m questioning exactly how did we get here? I’m getting the impression that perhaps Washington just doesn’t want to, and has not wanted to, give up its toys? I know that, all along & all the time, people are always trumpeting our government’s overspending, but today is the first time I’m coming across facts & details that seem to show that to me…and I am getting more than a little bit teed-off.
(George Washington, Quotes from the Founding Fathers)
I’m still not clear on how our country found itself in this recession we’ve been struggling through – that whole mortgage/banking industry thing. Add to that this debt issue, and it’s way too big for me – at least right now. What does seem clear to me, however, is that inexcusable overspending has taken place. Senate Finance Committee member Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma bluntly states that our government has grown by 30% since the start of President Obama’s term, and that Washington is “…spending way too much money…” He speaks of waste, duplication and fraud being part of this spending, citing as an example a $1,000 @ ticket airport transportation situation, irresponsible & unnecessary, paid for by, guess who, you & I.
Both Senator Coburn and former Bush advisor & Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove have recently reported essentially the same thing, that “nobody in America has actually seen a plan…put on paper…”, in order to know specifically what’s what. Rove says that even those who have participated in the deficit negotiating sessions don’t know what Obama’s proposal really is, and believes that the President has shown no real intention of curbing the ‘upward trajectory of government spending.’
On an encouraging note: I have seen repeated mention, coming from many directions, of long-term solutions and dealing with the root causes. Though it seems there is a stubborn but disguised attempt to hold onto the option of spreading money around at will, there is also an opposing camp that truly desires a workable, enduring solution. And I have to insert here my own personal belief in not believing the evil report (as evidenced by Joshua & Caleb of Old Testament fame, when spying out the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, for Moses.) We get that instruction from the Highest Level – which would be God – but I’d also like to make mention once again of Mr. Trump’s opinion, that “…long-running talks will not necessarily lead to a massive stock market sell-off as has been claimed. “Nothing is inevitable,” he said. “If the right deal is made, you’ll have a big uptick on Wall Street.”
I want to end this post with a comment made by Libertyship 46, on a Pajamas Media piece. Yes, I am all about hope springing eternal, and going forward in faith, but I do believe that losing our AAA standing, losing our credibility with the world community, is a very serious turn of events, and one we do not want to see happen.
“This is a battle for the soul of the nation. What is it we want to become? Do we want to become just another bankrupt European-style welfare state, like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, or do we want to get back on the road to fiscal solvency? If you choose the latter, then this is a fight we need to embrace. This is where we make our stand and this is where we draw the line.”