A deal got made. The stock market went up 200 points. Leaders of the United States of America, theoretically the world’s economic power, struck a last-minute, crisis-induced deal so the nation can continue to make good on its promises and pay its bills.
Cause for celebration? Hardly.
What our Congress just did — waiting until the 11th hour to pass a hastily drafted bill that raises the debt ceiling to avert a default on its debt — constitutes poor management of our country’s balance sheet.
What’s more, this is history repeating itself.
Since 2010 — when a bipartisan commission was formed to plan an attack on budget deficits and then was promptly ignored — the federal government has lurched from crisis to crisis with no real solution. When the Simpson-Bowles Commission three years ago recommended a $4 trillion plan to cut spending, eliminate tax loopholes and change Medicare and Social Security, the nation’s debt stood at $13.7 trillion. After this latest kick of the can, the debt will exceed $17 trillion.
No business that hopes to remain a going concern would operate this way.
Whether it’s a neighborhood hardware store or a multinational corporation, any business with an expiring line of credit that it needs to operate would renew that line months ahead of time, making certain that the business would avoid any defaults or other fiscal train wrecks that might occur if its line of credit expired.
That’s just common sense, and it doesn’t require an advanced degree, a staff of policy-wonk advisors or weeks of wrangling over “the right thing to do.”
It’s an easy call.
But because of what looks to be a complete void of statesmanship in Washington, Americans were forced to watch the horrible theater that was offered by the legislative and executive branches of our government.
President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid almost appear to have created a crisis so that they could swoop in at the last minute and save the day.
Thanks for nothing.
The Republicans even managed to bow their necks on this issue at the very moment that the Obamacare website was crashing and couldn’t function as promised. The GOP wound up grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, diverting attention from the very health care law that they despise, just as it was choking to get started. Not exactly brilliant politics.
But the saddest part of all this is that it doesn’t save American taxpayers a dime.
Federal employees will get back pay and, as a bonus, Congress will continue to spend more money than it has coming in, wallowing further into what is becoming an unmanageable national debt.
Only common sense and statesmanship will turn this mess around.
Nebraskans should remember this and demand these attributes from House and Senate candidates in the 2014 elections.