With the Fiscal Cliff somewhat now having been addressed at the last moment by congress it would now seem too many that the US can resume business as normal. Nonetheless, how quickly we forget that just over the horizon still looms an ever growing problem, America’s uncontrolled appetite for spending tied to a burdensome federal budget and a still crippling economy restricted by taxable revenue. Not surprisingly in months to come America will reface the debt crisis it faced just a year ago; whether to simply raise the debt ceiling once again or begin the much needed debate process as to how America can reduce its overbearing debt.
As of December 2012 America’s overall debt held by public and foreign investors exceeded $16.370 trillion, in contrast it was estimated to be just over $13 trillion in 2010. Is the debt ceiling just a number that is somewhat incalculable or is it a number that will impact every tax payer’s daily life? Added debt dramatically restricts the amount of money available to support the cost of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, generate new jobs and pay for its overall present and past obligations as more money is diverted towards paying on the interest incurred alone. For future generations it not hard to perceive that they will endure higher taxes, worn roads, lower paying jobs and burdened by a debt they did not incur.
Another immediate hidden problem for the American tax payer is inflation which devalues Americas purchasing power, resulting in the cost of goods purchased by the consumer cost more. Perhaps you have noticed the rising cost of gasoline at the pump. As the dollar is devalued, suppliers demand more money for their products to offset the devalued dollar. However, inflation does have its own bargaining power. As the value of the dollar goes down, the overall value of the national debt is diminished and a lower dollar value combined with higher prices of goods the government gains from additional taxes paid on higher priced goods. Inflation alone however is not the answer to resolving the problem, for uncontrolled inflation can stall a growing economy, particularly an economy coming out of a great recession.
In 2012 Congress took what many perceived as a stop gap measures and raised the debt ceiling to prevent the collapse of the government’s ability to pay its liabilities. Although in a manner of speaking a financial crisis had been averted, the problem had not been addressed, only allowed to go quietly unchecked. While other nations around the world were forced to cut back on government backed programs to offset their financial liabilities, America did not respond to the heart of the problem by implementing the necessary spending cuts in order to bring the deficit within the influence of justifiable numbers. Congress had failed themselves, in favor of future votes in order to maintain their party lines. After all who or what party wanted to state the inevitable and admit that both the fiscal cliff and federal deficit are a limiting factor in the way government will be cable of determining future policies. To disclose the full extent of the problem by one side or the other publicly would only be used to demonize those who disclose the magnitude of the problem. In response to this inability by congress in 2012 to address the problem world creditors were swift in downgrading America’s credit, citing the problem had only been delayed not addressed. It would seem the best one could only do is to openly cry as John Boehner, Speaker of The House has done before.
Revisiting an old problem, Americas will once again face another standoff between the parties, as to whether to raise the debt ceiling or not in 2013. The debate itself will be focused not on the cause but whether to raise the debt ceiling. This would suggest Government has become dependent on its own government bureaucracy, incapable of making tough decisions required to secure the stability of the nation’s financial future. What congress had touted as an initial triumph to the problem, in reality had turned out to be an indication to the world that congress had failed to properly do its job and politics not sound minds were running America’s government. For the American public, weary of politician’s inability to act responsibly it was no surprise, it was no more to them than that of a foot note in their minds. Around the world however the thought that American politics could fail its own people was just catching on. After all, America’s political process was touted for decades as the model for all free nations to follow towards prosperity. However it was painfully apparent America’s budget crisis did have its far reaching consequences for all nations involved. The world’s greatest super power was beginning to feel the effects of a recession it had created in part and its own financial limits. For the second time in America’s history, America’s credit rating was downgraded.
In a crisis of any magnitude nations and people alike look to leaders to resolve the issues, not to postpone or hide from the problem at hand, the old adage lead by example has become predominantly forgotten by Americas elected officials. It would seem these day in American politics it is better to capitalize on the problem to booster ones existence, than to resolve the problem. This new found way to sensationalize on a crisis at the last moment and demonize one opponent aligns itself with pre-colonial days.
More appropriately this Romanesque approach to American politics seems to be evolving overtime, a ram rod through a temporary yet costly policy to cover up the true problem. It is apparent that today’s political arena is focused on a few who will determine the path that others are told to follow. The intended floor debate that our founding fathers had counted on to hammer out a sound resolution to a crisis, has sadly given way to a secular voting booth in a now solemn chamber.
Two separate parties of opposing views is what our fathers had dreamed of, destined to collide head long in the House now find they must decide not what is right, but what side they are on. Giving little room to explore the common ground they stand on. What they fail to realize is it is not the vote they should count on, it is the principles they vote on. Principle which stirred the streets of the past and drove the people to the streets to fight for the liberties we all enjoy today. Principles decide debates and principles decide the fate of all great nations not stop gap measures that table serous problems for later.
Tough decisions require tough politicians willing to stand up and help America realize what the country can and cannot afford, the policy making philosophy that have been instilled in Washington over the past several decades does not reflect the times. Sound resolutions put forth to address this ongoing budget crisis in a reasonable amount of time will provide congress as well as the people of this nation the prosperity they yearn for, as well as to insure the future of this great nation. Failure to address this upcoming budget crisis fully should not or ever be an option, for failure will mark another downgrade in America’s credit worthiness that will send ripples throughout the world’s global economy destined to cost the tax payers more.
Edmund Dunn, Reporting