Imagine 17 trillion jellybeans, bunnies or anything else of your choosing. If you are struggling, fear not, your brain is simply revealing one of its multiple inadequacies. In my eyes our brains’ failure to comprehend abstract numbers helps explain our government’s inability to understand just how much money we’re actually spending. The sheer magnitude of our debt, currently $16.7 trillion, suggests it’s just too large for a politician’s small, meager mind to comprehend.
For over two years lawmakers in Washington D.C. have habitually debated raising the debt ceiling or letting our country catapult off the fiscal cliff to our financial suicide. What was once a procedural activity has now become a divisive and bitterly debated event endowing the Republican Party with unprecedented bargaining power.
In 2011 Republicans were determined to make amends for the reckless spending that had occurred since President Obama’s election. With power in their hands, they essentially held our country and financial markets hostage until President Obama agreed to some long term spending cuts. This, however, was only a temporary fix and for the third time in two years we are debating the same issue. Now, however, President Obama is refusing to play ball and setting the stage for an intense political showdown.
The reality of the situation is that the debt ceiling must be raised. Despite the current rhetoric dispensed by Republicans, the money in question has already been authorized and spent by Congress. Failure to raise the debt ceiling means we default on the money we owe and that is something we cannot afford to do. Disastrous results could and will occur if we cannot pay our debts. To echo Warren Buffet, refusing to raise the debt ceiling is “pretty damn dumb.” With our economy finally emerging from a pit of despair, we cannot afford to threaten our recovery with politics.
But that is not to say that Republicans do not have a point. President Obama and Democrats have to understand that our spending is outrageously high and our current trajectory is unsustainable. Likewise, Mr. Obama’s refusal to compromise is alarming. I understand compromising appears weak, but for the security and benefit of our country it’s a small price to pay. It’s time to lead.
However, Republicans threatening to shut down our government devastate our financial markets and risk downgrading our credit rating is something akin to domestic terrorism. I agree our spending must be reined it, but the absolutely unacceptable terms suggested by Republicans, like defunding “Obamacare,” must be modified. Ultimately, tough decisions and spending cuts have to be enacted by both parties for our country to have a sustainable future. To think otherwise is simply farcical.