Every issue in the Beltway is touted as a crisis – the ultimate threat to the economic health of the nation and our futures.
Sequester, shutdown, continuing resolution, and now another national debt crisis, has us either nervous or numb, because of the rhetoric espoused by fear mongers in the nation’s capitol. This includes Belt Way media.
Boehner. Reid. Pelosi. McConnell. Obama. They dominate every news cast, repeating the same old, same old. Blame the other party. If there is no solution, financial disaster is imminent. We want to talk, but the other side doesn’t.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, clouded issues even more, lobbying to defund the Affordable Health Care Act, knowing it was impossible with a Democrat-controlled Senate and a president, with the mighty veto pen.
Where is the calming influence we should expect from our leaders?
People had every reason to be scared in the depth of the Great Depression – the worst in this nation’s history – when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1933.
“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself,” FDR said, in his first inaugural speech. Words meant to calm a panicked nation.
It took more than words, but it is a message that should be spoken now.
The reason for the current fear is the nation is in unknown territory, both in the operation and finances of the federal government. Nobody knows for certain the impact of failing to increase the national debt limit.
The unknown is always scary.
The known is scary, because those in charge are like squirrels in a revolving cage, except they suffer inertia and the nation is spinning backward.
In times, when Republicans and Democrats actually talked, the national debt was an issue – except it was dealt with.
Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., minority leader, who is credited for saying, “a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money,” in a televised talk in 1965, mused about the national debt. He told of the history and the types of debt – temporary, actual and permanent.
The issue was increasing the debt by $4 billion, to $332 billion. Dirksen served in Congress 35 years, dying in office in 1969. He had similar concerns about the effect on the economy if the debt limit – now counted in trillions of dollars – was not raised.
As noted in last week’s column – these ongoing crises are the result of Congress and the President failing, for many years, to meet their Constitutional duty.
This has resulted in an increasing abuse of power and dereliction of duty, especially when it comes to managing and spending the nation’s money, which begins with the budget.
Since April 29, 2009 Congress and the President refused to approve an annual fiscal year (FY) budget. The fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
From FY2010 to early FY2013, Congress passed 17 continuing resolutions. The shutdown resulted when Congress and the Senate could not agree on a continuing resolution Oct. 1.
It should never happen. Congress and the President are charged in Article I of the Constitution that it is their duty to manage the nation’s spending and revenue.
All three began FY2014 deliberations, missing the Feb. 4, 2013 deadline to present initial budget requests.
The House and Senate (Congress) introduced their separate 2014 FY budgets March 15, 2013. President Obama submitted his proposal on April 10, 2013.
The House budget resolution, written by committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., totaled $2.76 trillion, set FY 2015-2023 budget levels, deficits, public debt and two tax brackets, 10 percent and 25 percent.
The Senate’s first budget proposed in four years called for $3.7 trillion in federal spending, increased taxes, anticipated government debt continuing to accumulate. It also set budget levels for 2015 to 2023.
President Obama’s budget proposal was $3.03 trillion revenue, total expenditures of $3.77 trillion and a deficit of $744 billion.
The actual appropriation for fiscal 2014 must be enacted by Congress before they can take effect. A budget exists only as several competing drafts; no official budgets has been approved.
We were at “cliff’s edge” only 10 months ago – Dec. 31, 2012 – when the debt limit reached the $16.394 trillion ceiling approved in 2011. The limit today, according to U.S. Debt Clock watchers is $16.999 trillion – expected to be reached Oct. 17, the day most of you are reading this column. At l0 a.m. Sunday the debt clock read $16.964 trillion and was spinning relentlessly.
Congress has always acted when called upon to raise the debt limit. Since 1960, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit – 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents.
There’s a chance Congress won’t raise the debt ceiling by deadline, leaving the U.S. government unable to borrow money to pay its bills.
It is as unprecedented as 1965, when Dirksen spoke on television, because nobody knows what will happen. Dire predictions are a default would spark egregious economic consequences and a possible global financial meltdown.
Because of the deadline for this column, the debt limit issue could be settled. Negotiations by Republican leadership in the House with President Obama to raise the limit stalled during the weekend. Senators Reid, D-Nev, majority leader, and McConnell, R-Tenn., minority leader, assumed that role.
A Republican leader in the House reported Nov. 20 was a temporary deadline in their proposal.
All that would do is give the nation a day of relief and five weeks and six days of fear mongering until the next crisis deadline.
A less known Dirksen quote, “The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion,” may explain the root cause of the fiscal problems and increasing cost of government.
It is no excuse for failing to do what Congress and President were elected for and live up to their oath to defend the Constitution.