The craziness in Congress has spread to me. They are driving me nuts. How so? I didn’t intend to, but today I pretty much placed the blame for the debt ceiling crisis on my running partner. Her “crime”? She voted for Senator Richard Shelby. Two years ago. I mean, it’s a very logical argument, right? When Shelby ran two years ago, he won by just a single vote. Or was it 452,812 votes? I can’t remember for sure. All I know was the guy I voted for was a very credible candidate! Just check out his website! Look, he stood for….um…..two issues (oh wait, four! He just didn’t have two of them in his pull-down menu). But I’m sure his ideas on those
two four subjects were awesome….just check out these….er….very generic and few ideas. So did I vote for him because he wasn’t Shelby and he apparently was also not an apparent rapist? Okay, nevermind that. Because the ringleader of all this, the man responsible for gumming up all the works, is….Richard Shelby? Hmm.
Yeesh! Is irrationality contagious? Because I do believe I have caught the disease from Congress. Anyway, as a catharsis, let me post a few more thoughts on the debt ceiling developments. I hope to be more rational now:
- Tea party folks are really pushing for a balanced budget amendment. On the surface, this idea really does have some appeal. After all, there is not much sign that Congress can keep its spending in line with its revenues in the long run. That said, sometimes things that seem like a good idea on the surface have negative connotations when you peel back the skin. Economists say it is a bad idea. Liberal economists say it’s a bad idea. Conservative economists say it’s a bad idea. Lots of economists say it’s a bad idea. How much of a bad idea? For instance, without further revenues, in fiscal year 2009, cuts would have had to been made to 100% of our discretionary spending, including all of national defense, and we still would have had to make cuts into Medicare and Social Security. I tend to try to give a lot of weight to the experts in any discussion. Also, I believe that we are largely in this mess because of the idiots we put in charge. The same idiots will still be in charge with a BBA.
- As a related issue, the House tied raising the debt ceiling next year to passage of the BBA. I don’t know. Something unseemly about that. Too much like blackmail to me. I would like to think even if they flipped it and said that it was tied to voting down the BBA, I would still oppose it. Legislation should be voted on or against on its own merits, not linked to other legislation as a leverage tool.
- We are now actually having to consider gimmicky loopholes to try to get the debt ceiling passed. One option is for President Obama to unilaterally invoke a clause in 14th Amendment that says “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” But as you might imagine by mentions of insurrection and rebellion, and becomes even more clear reading the rest, the intent of this amendment was to take care of some post-Civil War business. (On the other hand, one purpose for this was so that returning Southern Congressmen wouldn’t hold the debt hostage. Pretty much what is happening now. So the case can certainly be made for its usage.) So it’s kind of a go-around of the checks and balances. It also means legal challenges and possible impeachment proceedings brought against Obama.
- A more interesting option that somehow stayed off my radar until my running partner mentioned it this morning (before I decided she caused this) is the trillion-dollar coin. It sounds like something straight out of The Onion, but crazy times call for crazy measures and some are legitimately proposing it. The idea is that the U.S. Treasury could mint a coin and declare it having a huge value ($1 trillion or more). The Treasury simply then takes that coin to the Federal Reserve and buy up Treasury bonds and retires that amount of debt. The Federal Reserve has to take it, because by law they can’t refuse legal tender. It’s really sort of a clever, awesome idea actually. Absurd certainly (may I suggest we put the Montgomery C. Burns on the coin in honor of the original one trillion dollar bill?). But so is this whole situation.
- It appears that we have people who don’t know what they are doing in charge? But how did that come to pass? We have 93 new Representatives and 13 new Senators. The other 342 Representatives and 87 Senators should know better.
- Republicans refuse to raise taxes on anyone for any reason. Yet if the debt ceiling is not increased and if our debt is downgraded, guess what? Interest rates are going to go up for everyone. Call it a stupidity tax. Except this tax will not contribute one iota to debt reduction. In fact, it will do just the opposite.
- I fear we are heading toward another recession no matter what happens at this point.
Ok, deep breaths. Everything will be fine. Now repeat, ‘Do not take this out on your friends, do not take this out on your friends, do not take this………’
- The $5 Trillion Coin: Gimmicks the government could use to resolve the debt-ceiling debacle. (slate.com)
- Debt Ceiling Update: Did Obama Sabotage Talks With GOP? (247wallst.com)
- Ken Blackwell: Avoiding the Danger of a “Clean” BBA (huffingtonpost.com)
- Robert Reich on the Debt Ceiling (educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com)