The Looming Debt Ceiling Crisis

Personally, I welcome the looming debt ceiling crisis. It seems to me an opportunity for the two parties to hammer out some sort of real government reforms. I genuinely think we’re heading for a crisis akin to Greece’s a decade or so from now. As much as I loath the Herderian aspects of the Tea Party culture, I admit that the movement could prove to be, from a historical vantage, good (if it results in some sort of standoff in March that leads to genuinely substantial fiscal reforms). Of course, that’s a very big if.

But at some point—and why not make it now?—the two parties have to stop the alternation between borrow-and-spend (the Republicans) and tax-and-spend (the Democrats).

I’ve heard that some conservatives are calling for a balanced budget amendment in exchange for their vote on raising the debt ceiling. That sounds reasonable to me, but the devil is in the details. I wonder how that would work, exactly.

And I wonder if the debt ceiling crisis could lead to both parties accepting the recent bipartisan commission’s fiscal discipline recommendations (the one that was chaired by former Senator Alan Simpson). In any case, hopefully the looming debt ceiling crisis will not just result in damage to investor confidence, but in real reforms that set the country on a more sustainable path of economic health and growth.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to go to the polls and vote on exactly how much government you really want—without the shell game of deficit spending masking the hard choices? Republicans then couldn’t run on feel-good tax cuts that balloon deficits and Democrats couldn’t run on feel-good spending programs that balloon deficits. Tax cuts would have to come with spending cuts and new programs would have to be financed with new taxes. 

Is it utopian to think that, over the next several months, the two parties could actually negotiate away the deficit spending shell game?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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