Saturday, July 23, 2011

Debt Ceiling drama continues

Despite meetings, proposals, votes, and lots of talk behind closed doors and before TV cameras during the past week, the gap seems to have widened between the President and the Republicans in the House—even between the President and his own party. Yesterday, the debt ceiling talks dramatically fell apart, apparently prompted by Speaker Boehner and punctuated by dueling press conferences.

The President said his proposal was “extraordinarily fair” and justified his position, in part, by the heat from his fellow Democrats and interest groups, protesting the proposed cuts in entitlement programs. President Obama testily asked if the Republicans would agree to anything. Speaker Boehner claimed the President “moved the goal posts” by asking for $400-billion more revenue late in the discussions, what Republicans say is a tax increase and is simply not negotiable.

The President demanded that the leaders of the House and Senate meet with him at the White House this morning. He expects them to advise how they intend to raise the debt ceiling.


While we definitely need to reduce our escalating debt, I don't believe it should be done solely by cutting expenditures. Reasonable increases in revenue, either by reducing or eliminating tax deductions or increasing certain taxes, should be part of the strategy. The Republican House is obstructing such a balanced resolution to adhere to their pledge of no new taxes.

Their position reminds me of the aphorism:
Don't let your principles keep you from doing the right thing.
Unfortunately, I think the principle of lower taxes has become a rigid ideology, and I'm afraid the country is going to suffer.

I expressed my concerns via a couple of Twitter posts earlier today.

Here's that last paragraph from President Lincoln's first inaugural address:
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
If I were in Washington today, I would go by the Lincoln Memorial to see if there are any tears in his eyes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Debt Limit

So far politics trumps statesmanship, as the Republican-controlled House doesn't appear willing to compromise with the President in finding a mutually acceptable path to raising the debt ceiling.

Despite admonitions from credit rating agencies and China, everyone's sights seem focused on the 2012 election, rather than defining the best fiscal path for the country.

My usual optimism is eroding.

Nonetheless, to do what I can to influence the situation and relieve my increasing anxiety and frustration, I put fingers to keyboard (the modern version of pen to paper) and sent the following to Eric Cantor (the pivotal figure in the House), Speaker John Boehner, New Hampshire Representative Charles Bass, and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte:
I write to urge you to seek a compromise that will 1) allow the debt ceiling to be raised before the August 2 deadline and 2) not enable further erosion in the confidence of the U.S. Government. We already have the basis for a solution in the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission.

To believe the debt can be comprehensively reduced by simply cutting spending and not raising additional revenue strikes me as ludicrous and an unreasoned adherence to ideology. I also find it somewhat hypocritical that the Republicans are pushing so stridently for cuts in spending, when the debt rose from $5.8-trillion at the end of FY2001 to $10.0-trillion at the end of FY2008, under a Republican President and when the Republicans substantially controlled Congress.

Please don't play politics. Do focus on the best outcome for the American people.