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Election campaigns are firing up and the budget and debt ceiling debates continue to gain steam as the political world grinds along. Every day I'm convinced I've heard all possible explanations for why the economy is how it is. And every day I'm proven wrong.
I recently sent an email to my senator, Kay Hagan, expressing my dismay over the Senate’s inability to pass a budget. I received a response two weeks later (no not a hand written letter, but a generic, automated, electronic response). She stressed her concern for the debt and assured me her colleagues were working hard to figure out how to solve this problem. Hmm, a mounting debt, and a government that has $527,000 of unfunded liabilities per household and now wants to raise the debt limit? Come on guys, the solution isn’t that hard to figure out.
There have been plenty of answers to the country’s biggest problem (including outright denial that the stimulus didn't end poverty and save all the penguins), yet the narrative never runs the same on just what liberals think the problem/solution is. On the one hand we have Obama pulling an Eleanor Roosevelt by blaming technological innovation for the high unemployment numbers, i.e. ATM’s make bankers obsolete or something to that effect, and on the other hand we have liberal bloggers saying that spending isn’t the problem. It's the fat cat CEO’s of big oil companies not paying enough of their profits into taxes to fund necessary government intervention (like bailing out Chrysler, so we could sell them to a foreign company, Fiat).
I even read an argument that the government had nothing to do with the debt crisis; rather businesses simply weren’t working hard enough to produce prosperity. The government was holding up its end of the social contract by writing big checks. Let me run you through this train of thought. The government can’t be cut back, because the government buys lots of goods from businesses and has lots of employees who use their paychecks to buy goods. If the government stopped spending money then no one would purchase the goods businesses sell. And if no one purchased those goods, then the business couldn’t pay taxes to the government to use to buy the goods from the business so that it could pay taxes to the…..Oh, wait a second.
If I had a third hand, it would be the Kay Hagan approach of admitting that the mounting debt is problematic, whilst simultaneously refusing to pass a budget (cognitive dissonance is always in short supply on the hill). Turns out you can have a budget crisis without having a budget.
Government cannot continue on this path. For those of us who neither want to work at McDonald's nor live in Texas, the economy looks pretty dismal. There is no fancy argument, and no complex algorithm that will solve our debt problem and magically fix the economy. The solution is not to throw tax dollars at green jobs and more beauracracy that may or may not produce millions of jobs and lower costs in the future (they won’t), and it isn’t tax increases on the rich. Spending must be cut, NOW, and not just from the defense budget. Anyone who refuses to admit this is either being intellectually dishonest, or is Obama.