Monday, August 01, 2011

Back from the Edge of Disaster?

You know you probably got the best deal possible when everyone across the political spectrum is angry!  It appears that just a day before the Federal Government would be in a default position, when it wouldn't be able to pay all of its current obligations, a deal was struck to raise the debt ceiling.  That no one is happy with the deal is a sign that we are in a difficult period of our political history.  We are here because we have a divided government, with one house essentially controlled by a Radical group of Republicans, while the Senate has not been able to move any real legislation because the minority party can keep votes from occurring.  Thus, even though the Democrats hold the Presidency and the Senate, it can't do very much.  President Obama is constantly being criticized for his "lack of leadership," but even with a majority in the Senate he has a hard time getting his nominees for judicial appointments and other areas of government life approved.  We can this dysfunction!

So here we have a deal.  Republicans on the Right are unhappy because they didn't get a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would be a disaster in the making, while the Left is angry because there are no revenues involved that will lessen the blow on programs held dear.  Of course, part of the deal is a commission that will need to decide what kind of revenue enhancements and cuts can be made.  There will be a time for Democrats to make their presence felt.  I expect all of this will be done in a partisan fashion fit for an election season.  But, both sides will have their opportunity to make their case before the American people.

Here is our dilemma.  We like to receive freebies.  We like bargains.  We want goods and services, but we don't want to pay for them.  That is why we have a budget deficit.  During the Bush Administration we entered two wars while cutting taxes.  Thus, we committed ourselves to large outlays to support troops in two theaters, while reducing revenues.  In the end, the country ran up big debts.  Then came the recession, which made things worse. We "bailed out" banks and auto companies (the auto companies have come back nicely, thank you very much), and put together a stimulus package, which was likely too small and thus didn't do enough to spring us from the doldrums.  We are in a growth cycle, but just barely.  The housing market remains down because there are simply more houses on the market than buyers willing to commit, despite low interest rates and much lower prices on homes.  This is a "recession" that we'll not be able to build ourselves out of.  

Ultimately the issue at hand concerns what we're willing to commit ourselves to doing.  Are we willing to pay higher taxes?  Are we willing to make tough decisions on beloved programs.  The reality is that Medicare and Social Security need to be addressed.  There are fixes, but are we willing to entertain them?  Or, if leaders start to address them we will turn on them, like we did in 2010?   

Is this debt deal and good deal?  Probably not!  Does it keep us from going off the edge of economic disaster, we hope so.  Is this a sign that we can do other politically tough work?  That remains to be seen.  The question ultimately is:  are we committed to the common good or only the private good?


Gary said...

14 trillion dollars in debt, and counting. Many trillions more in unfunded promises(social security, medicare, medicaid), a country divided morally, religiously, philosophically, culturally.

It appears to me that things are very bad, and getting worse fast. I see no way to save either the economy, or the country.

Brian said...

I just called Congressperson Emanuel Cleaver's office to tell him that I prefer he vote 'no'. PEACE

John said...


I see a country reflecting strength, courage, hope and promise.

That is not to say I was please with the shenanigans of congress this past week, but I personally see our nations ongoing debate as a healthy sign, far more so than to see a nation walking in lockstep towards a socialist or capitalist utopia.

There are no Utopias, only Disneyesque promises. It is best that we each put forthour best vision of our nation's future and pray that the best ideas prevail, for the benefit of the nation as a whole.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


The great thing about America is we have the freedom to vote or think however we wish. But they have consequences. If this deal is defeated it likely will have dire consequences for the nation.

And I'll add, those who are more liberal/progressive really only have themselves to blame for this. After all, they/we let a nice majority in the house turn into a large GOP majority. Not only that, but we saw the GOP take over the governorships and legislatures in many states and they will draw up the boundaries for the next 10 years.

We may not like the result, but we the American people only have ourselves to blame!

Brian said...

Bob - I didn't think my call would sway the vote, but I wanted to express my preference to my representative. From my movement politics perspective, I wanted him to hear the liberal voice loud and clear. I also know he's a true progressive.

Rep. Cleaver is actually a Kansas City United Methodist Pastor (St. James UMC). He's a great Christian progressive. He and Robert Lee Hill are great friends and do an annual pulpit exchange.

I'm proud of him. In fact, last week I showed up at his Independence office with some other Move On folks to show gratitude and support for his backbone and progressive principles.

It is true that I hate this piece of legislation. I think it is really bad legislation, but I recognize that we can't default on our debts. I understand the need for governance. I respect that about President Obama even when I think he gives away the farm. I was just expressing my view to my representative. After all, it is a democratically elected representative republic.

Gary said...


You and I see the country very differently, which is not surprising since our theologies and world views differ so much. And that goes to my point; about the vast differences between Americans. We don't agree on enough to ever be united. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

John said...

Ah the beauty and the challenge of American democracy - diversity. Conformity is where danger lurks.

Gary said...

Diversity is a weakness, not a strength.

Brian said...

Gary - You need to copyright that! It would make a funny bumper sticker.