Friday, January 11, 2013

“One More Step, and the Economy Gets It”

Enough already.

The money has been authorized.  The services have been rendered.  The invoices are due.  Pay the bills and address future spending as a separate issue.  We do not negotiate with terrorists.

In order to disarm those who believe that taking the U.S. economy hostage is a noble position, I approve of Obama invoking Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

The U.S. House of Representatives is planning to allow the validity of the public debt of the United States to be questioned.  Don’t think the 14th Amendment tactic would pass legal muster?  OK, mint those $1 trillion coins.  That is so legal that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) is moving to close that legal option by passing a law banning the practice now.  No need to make it illegal if it is already illegal.  Call the bluff, mint the coin and never allow the economy to be hijacked again for partisan gain.  

Loyal opposition, find a new hostage whose kidnapping won’t impact the global economy.  Must I remind you of what Standard and Poor’s said when the credit rating of our nation was downgraded after the last stand-off?:

"The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed." 

That downgrade came at a cost of increased interest payment costs on the debt, which by the way, is then charged to taxpayers in this country.  The downgrade cost real money according to the Government Accounting Office.   The GAO stated: 

“Delays in raising the debt limit can create uncertainty in the Treasury market and lead to higher Treasury borrowing costs. GAO estimated that delays in raising the debt limit in 2011 led to an increase in Treasury’s borrowing costs of about $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. However, this does not account for the multiyear effects on increased costs for Treasury securities that will remain outstanding after fiscal year 2011.”

 You really want to reduce the debt?  Don’t add to it artificially with a pathetic argument over paying for things we have already bought.

You authorized it.  You bought it.

Stop telling people that an increase in the debt ceiling will allow Obama to spend more money than you, the House of Representatives, have authorized.  It doesn’t.

So for once, do the right thing.  Authorize the debt ceiling increase that will cover the money the House has already authorized to be spent, and fight for common sense cuts or reductions in federal programs that need to be cut.  Start with defense so I believe that you are serious and not just looking for an excuse to shred the social safety net (which benefits our economy).

Last year, Obama agreed to $1 trillion in spending cuts.  During discussions with Speaker Boehner this fall, he offered more cuts.  He has presented cuts, but they are not the cuts you want and not as deep as you want.  Sorry, you lost in November.  Take the cuts you can get and get back to work.

The kind of austerity your leadership is championing did not work in Europe.  Great Britain cut spending by 30% in order to show the markets they were serious about deficit reduction.  That plan dropped the Brits into a double dip recession and slower GDP growth.  Throughout that period, we have held our own.

Address entitlements in a smart way.  Means test Social Security.  Raise the retirement age over time.  Empower the IPAB (Independent Patient Advisory Board) that your side demogogued as a ‘death panel’ to review what Medicare services can be covered.  Be cost-effective, not cheap.  Raising the Medicare eligibility age drops the least expensive Medicare recipients from the pool.  That raises costs money; it doesn’t save it.

One more thing: pay the bills and protect the recovery.  Cut smart, cut slow, cut everywhere and cut continuously over a long period of time.  Stop taking us hostage because after all, we are the economy. 

My favorite hostage scene from movie history, albeit a tad inappropriate for many audiences...

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