A Deficit “Deal” Is Too Late

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The debt talks are the last hurrah of a dysfunctional Congress. (It’s difficult, incidentally, to write a blog that commits to talking civilly about difficult issues when the primary actors themselves are so uncivil.)

As we fritter away the last few minutes before the debt ceiling deadline, it looks like a last minute McConnell-Boehner-Obama deal will fall into place. Frankly, it’s too late. We have spent a month playing at brinkmanship with the full faith and credit of the American people.

Whether or not we come up with some absurd deal today, we have already said our word is no good. The federal debt – already authorized by Congress and incurred under a different president – represents the American people’s implicit endorsement of the government’s right to govern. A default is a default on our implied contract. If we cannot keep our word, we should not bother giving it.

Room for Solutions: Americans Love Social Security, Don’t Love Paying for It

As of this morning it looks like a “compromise”  is emerging with no increase in revenues and $2 trillion in cuts. But it’s pretty much too late.

Here’s the biggest laugh of it all: This is an argument between a moderate president and a very conservative House of Representatives. President Obama showed himself willing to make billions of dollars in cuts to entitlement programs – that’s a compromise. Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans are unwilling to accept any revenue increases. That’s not a compromise. This is not to question the validity of their positions – merely to characterize their willingness (or perhaps ability) to compromise.

Our system of governance is based on an oppositional model, with the assumption that differing sides will broker deals that are in the best interests of the American people. Checks and balances between different branches and different groups are the lifeblood of real democracy that represents a diverse population.

Our representatives are stuck to their parties and their campaign promises – with no ability to exercise good judgement, broker deals or recognize the validity of others’ views.

The American people are reaping the consequences of dysfunctional leadership and go-go-go spending in both our individual lives and our country’s lives. We take out mortgages on homes we can’t afford and we want social security, medicare and military dominance. If you want services, you will have to pay for them. I expect the American people will not like the consequences of $2 trillion in spending cuts, even if they say they want them.

Image Credit: Aidan Jones on Flickr

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