On the Debt Ceiling Debate

As the debt-ceiling deadline approaches, it is time for me to chime in with my perspective as an independent moderate.

Democrats are right by considering additional revenues. Republicans are right regarding the importance of cuts.

Democrats are right by categorizing House Republicans as noncompromising ideologues. Republicans are right by wondering why President Obama did not embrace the Deficit Commission’s report earlier.

Democrats are correct that Republicans are protecting loopholes and taxes for the upper income. Republicans are correct that the Democrats are protecting entitlements. Interestingly, entitlements are not the issue because fixing programs as Social Security and Medicare would not be that difficult.

We have a climate that if President Obama gave the Republicans what they wanted, the Republicans would turn it down because they must disagree with him. Let us not forget that Senator McConnell (R-KY) restated his 2009 pledge of doing what he can to make President Obama a one-term president.

At this late hour, plans from separate camps are still dominating the scene. We have partisan plans that cannot pass the other chamber. A large Republican block opposes their Speaker’s plan. Minority Leader McConnell describes the majority leader’s plan as “pulling the wool over the eyes of the American people.”

In order to make the debt a campaign issue, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) aims for a six-month solution; thus the Senator Reid (D-NV) plan aims for 2013, thus off the campaign-season table.

As conservative columnist George Will proclaims that Congress is right to take a stand, let us not forget that it is also Congress’s responsibility to act responsibly for the nation. Maybe this satirical headline says it best: Congress Continues to Debate Whether or Not Nation Should be Economically Ruined. (The Onion).

As for President Obama, although he did not make the details of his ideas public (and I’m ok with that), he has tried to work a compromise. He is correct that the time has come to stop kicking the can down the road; therefore, I still encourage him to walk away from the ongoing conversations – thus placing the responsibility on Capitol Hill’s back.

As the economy continues to struggle, Washington continues to focus on the fall rather the leading the country forward. As House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) says we must all sacrifice, I wonder if the middle and lower class has not sacrificed enough by the loss of employment, falling house prices, and losses to retirement accounts.

In a time when the nonfederal government sector (states, cities, counties, townships, and villages) face additional layoffs, cut in services, and an infrastructure in need of repair, what will be the source for needed revenue? In order to stimulate a new economic base, how do we invest in training, research and development, and innovation?

How are we going to differentiate, let alone fund, wars of choice vs. wars of necessity? How are we going to compete in today’s global economy with a twentieth century mindset? What will guide our global policy? How are we going to restore our place in the world, not isolate from it?

I have long proclaimed that the Democrats misread the 2008 election results, and the same is true for the Republicans in 2010. Although President Obama is vulnerable in 2012, the Republicans are doing what they can to push independent moderates away.

Meanwhile, as Rome burns, our decision makers continue to fiddle to the tune of self-interests and passing on a prime opportunity to make a difference.

Americans are rightly angry, frustrated and more than a little scared by this debt fight. It has only confirmed that our politics have taken a terrible turn. And how striking it is to have an emergency that has not been caused by our foes — but is entirely a self-inflicted wound. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to listen to more arguments from politicians — as well as pundits — and could actually wake up to a bold, courageous, bipartisan solution? David Gergen

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18 thoughts on “On the Debt Ceiling Debate

  1. I think you summed it up pretty well, especially when you said “I wonder if the middle and lower class has not sacrificed enough by the loss of employment, falling house prices, and losses to retirement accounts.” The fact is that some people have fared quite well as a result their actions in nearly bringing about an economic meltdown, and yet it is those same people who are being “protected” from having to play a role in fixing this mess.

    The saddest thing of all to me is that this current “crisis” was brought by the same kind of shenanigans that dug us into such a big hole in the first place – by politicians doing what they think will win votes instead of doing what’s in the best interests of actual voters.

    • IzaakMak,
      Thanks for the kind words. All of Washington has created this mess, and it’s going to take all of Washington to get out of it. Then again, that would require something that they not be capable of doing – making difficult decisions!

      Sorry I haven’t been around in some time. Work seems to get in the way too much. I shall return! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. This crisis shines the light on the dark shadow we have supresed through our various means of denial. Our system is no longer a republic reflecting a democracy (which may be why we have been having trouble bringing, or securing democracy in other countries).

    Websters says democracy is “a form of government in which all eligible people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.” Between special interests, corporate donations and cronyism this hasn’t be true for a while now. A compromise that puts the country first and makes the best decision for the people is not happening and it is getting harder for us to deny the fact the “people” haven’t had a say in a very long time.

  3. I have posted this in my blog before, but I figure I’ll throw it up here…

    General Electric made $26 billion in profits over the last five years and not only paid no federal income tax, it got a $4.1 billion refund.

    10. Carnival Cruise Lines over the past five years made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

    9. ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks.

    8. Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes.

    7. Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion.

    6. Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS.

    5. Boeing got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

    4. Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

    3. General Electric made $26 billion in profits over the last five years and not only paid no federal income tax, it got a $4.1 billion refund.

    2. Bank of America got a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, though it made $4.4 billion in profits.

    1. Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009 and paid no federal income taxes. It did receive a $156 million rebate from the IRS.

    I’m all for making cuts…Cuts are needed, but so is revenue…Closing loop-holes that let companies get away with this kind of crap puts a major dent in us getting things on track.

    Our elected officials playing their games has gotten old and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is sick of it.

    • Beeze,
      Getting out of debt without increasing the revenue stream makes no sense …. and your point about corporations is well taken. I do know corporate tax is different than personal tax, but I will have to do some digging on this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. screw george will (with someone else’s lady parts, because mine want no part of him). i don’t remember him (or any rethugs, for that matter) bitching and moaning about the debt ceiling when chimpy and deadeye dick were charging up a storm on the country’s credit cards (remember deadeye dick said deficits don’t matter). this is all about obama. the teabaggers can’t stand a black guy being in the white house, and the rethugs are using that hatred and bigotry to galvanize the unwashed masses. it’s really that simple.

    • Nonnie,
      Although I didn’t always agree with him, George Will used to be one of my favs to read. But since he has turned more partisan, I’ve stopped reading his column. Meanwhile, and sad to say, the GOP is attempting to make it all about the president .. which I say is helping him! Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Thanks! Your points and the comments of your readers provide a clear picture of how Independent-Moderates view the Debt Ceiling Crisis. Things look grim now given the attitude of the Tea Party backed House Republicans, but reading your blog today gives me confidence that those who believe in balance and compromise will win the day over those who oppose asking wealthy individuals and large corporations to share the tax burden.

    • Tim,
      Agree … things look grim. At this point, I wonder if there are enough sensible House Republicans and sensible House Democrats to form a majority. Even if so, then would Speaker Boehner bring it to the floor for a vote. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Loved this. I’m getting so tired of the whole thing, really. Why bother when the other side flat out refuses? It’s turned into whatever Obama loves, we hate. Whatever he hates, we love. They need to grow up.

    My Congressman, one of the most Left in the House, pointed out that Obama made cuts most Democrats weren’t comfortable with, and they still won’t budge. At this point, I wish Obama would stop this dangerous game, and invoke the 14th amendment. And I’ll invoke the bumpersticker, Bipartisanship: I’ll hug your elephant if you kiss my ass. ;-)

    • Spinny,
      Glad you enjoy this post – although we’re not enjoying the Washington mess. Meanwhile, your bumper sticker is a hoot.

      Interestingly, for the most part, the Dems have been low key in both chambers, which is a good tactic against the crank. Thanks for visiting.

  7. I was just assuming this was another round of political brinksmanship. The closer we get to August 2, though, the more I’m afraid both parties will push things beyond August 2. With the economic mess in Europe, and Japan just starting to climb out of the economic downturn following the earthquake/tsunami mess, the thought of having the US credit rating downgraded scares the hoohah out of me. I am hopeful that common sense will return to DC. I’m also hopeful of seeing 70-degree highs tomorrow.
    Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath for either.

    • John,
      In short, the majority of Washington is not sensible. It is hard to imagine House members forming an alliance. Even if possible in the Senate, how could it ever pass the house. Thanks for commenting & hope you got your computer issue solved.

  8. The sad part of this is, if Obama gets re-elected, we will be going thriugh this bullshit through 2016. Like Nonnie said, the Rethugs don’t like Obama, since the minute he won the 2008 election, so this horseshit was planned out, and ready to go on Jan 20, 2009, and it continues on today.

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