analyticsbox | Jan 26, 2023
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Main Street Economics is nonpartisan. We focus on policy and results, not political parties. We will compliment or criticize efforts based on economic principles as we understand them, regardless of who proposed them. But what is going on in DC is befuddling, almost political anarchy. Aren’t our representatives supposed to be doing what is in the best interest of the public? And shouldn't they be working together to negotiate and compromise to accomplish that? But it doesn't seem to be working. The political divide seems insurmountable, the worst it has ever been. The issue du jour is the Debt Ceiling. GOOD NEWS: The politicians are seriously discussing our debt problem. BAD NEWS: Nothing of consequence will be done (I hope I am wrong. History tells me I am right. In 2010 President Obama appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee, the Bowles-Simpson Committee, The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, to study our problems - before they were as serious as they are today. They did, and made a series of excellent recommendations. NONE OF THE MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS WERE IMPLEMENTED). I am focused on issues, and the debt problem is THE major issue, as I see it. Admiral Mike Mullen in 2010, when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said ‘The national debt is the greatest threat to our national security.’ . The problem today is monumental and much worse than it was in 2010 (the debt to GDP was only 90% in 2010, now it is almost 130%). It is clear to me we are headed directly at the proverbial iceberg, and we will eventually sink the Ship of State if we stay on the current course. Yet we sail on with many recognizing the problem, but no one can find the political will to fix it. Every single representative we elect should be concerned with this and take actions to address this debt problem. It is not happening. And our own nonpartisan government agency, the CBO, projects another 14.5 trillion dollars of debt over the next 10 years, IF we do not add any new spending programs (which is already happening). Are our representatives so blind, they do not see the iceberg ahead? Or are they so concerned with being reelected that they will not do what is best for the Country. They should ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ and do the right thing - fix the fiscal insanity. It is up to Main Street, the ‘voting public’ if you will, to understand the issues and send a message to our representatives. That is how a constitutional republic is supposed to work. But if the public doesn’t understand the problems, we will soon devolve from political anarchy to real anarchy if our government crashes into the iceberg and sinks. Shame on us if we let that happen. As President Lincoln said: "with public support, anything can be accomplished." To get public support, the public must LEARN and UNDERSTAND the problem, then speak up LOUDLY. How about we just fix the problem and not the blame. And please understand, the Debt Ceiling is not the problem, it is the symptom. The real problem is our out of control spending and fiscal insanity. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all get along, cooperate and address the real problem? That is my fantasy world. If only it were that easy.
First, raise the Debt Ceiling and shut up. There is no choice if we are to honor our obligations and maintain financial credibility. Quit playing chicken with our finances.
This should be coupled with a bipartisan agreement to REALLY work on and fix the problems we are facing. We must address the fiscal nightmare in DC. There is no choice on that either, if we want to survive as a nation.
Fixing the fiscal problems our Country faces requires understanding and tradeoffs. It is not painless, and it cannot be done overnight, but it must be done. Main Street must understand the issues and demand fiscal sanity. There are many different approaches to this, and some work better than others. But we must have a solution before we crash and burn.
Winston Churchill once quipped that Americans always do the right thing, once all other alternatives are exhausted. Let’s try something different - let’s do the right thing BEFORE we exhaust all the alternatives.
If you want real world examples of problems that get out of hand, look no further than what is happening today in France on pension reform. Their system is completely broken and will crash before long. It is unsustainable, even worse than ours. But the people don’t get it, so when a modest, but inadequate, proposal to raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64 is proposed, all hell breaks loose. If they understood the problem, they would realize there is no choice.
LEARN ECONOMICS, THEN VOTE SMART