Real Talk: The Debt Ceiling Crisis

One only has to take a peek into recent conversations in Congress over our looming debt ceiling to realize how deep political factions run in America. The closed-door meetings between house Republicans and Democrats have been described as “tense” and “heel grinding,” both tactics clearly implemented by the leader of the Republican House Majority Eric Cantor and his self-tanner abusing partner, Speaker of the House John Boehner. The lack of any sort of give in the situation has given a darker outlook to the August 2nd deadline, not only with the possibly of what happens if nothing is passed, but as well as what might be passed.

Compromise is now a dirty word, one that has been the theme of much of Obama’s time in office. It’s an approach that, while logically sound, is only practiced by timid Democrats who still seem to hold the hope that if they compromise over and over again, the Republican party will ultimately do the same in a gesture of solidarity, uniting in the ideal “in this together.”  For the sake of compromise, Democrats are making program cuts that they were so eager to protect, while still being met by rejection from Republicans. Eric Cantor’s opposition to taxing anything over the highest income bracket serves as a constant reference to the right’s only concern: keeping power and money to their high ranking, tax evading buddies. This includes themselves.

If there is one thing clear, other than the fact that our system is indeed, massively outdated and broken, it’s that the Democrats’ willingness to play by the rules and “please” versus the Republican’s Rush Limbaugh-inspired game plan is causing one the largest American temper tantrums since, well, since the last one. We need to let go of the idea of great compromise, the one that still lives in the political imagination, where Clinton and Gingrich somehow came together peacefully, or conservative saint Reagan, whose own debt ceiling was raised seventeen times during his presidency, was able to easily fix.

So, what does this mean for us?  No matter what happens with the debt ceiling, we can all expect state cuts to still pour forth, cuts that of course don’t necessarily affect many of our elected leaders. One only has to look at the efforts in New Hampshire, Kansas, and Texas at defunding Planned Parenthood to realize that state leaders will go for the moral cuts first. It’s a tactical move meant to soothe the anti-abortion conservative into plentiful voting in 2012, a distraction that while changing the legal fabric of Roe v Wade, all in a matter of loopholes, goes without addressing the major issues that are actually draining our financial resources.

If a decision isn’t reached by August 2nd, almost all federal funds will come to a halt. No salaries for federal employees, no Medicare or social security checks, no food stamps, no educational funds, the works. The reality of this is terrifying, as millions of people will be going without necessary funds.

Let’s make that really simple and really clear.

People will not have money. They will not get paid or receive assistance. 44 % of the nation’s bills will go unpaid.  If you’re an active duty soldier and your partner receives your check to help pay for rent, you might not be paying rent that month. If you are on food stamps, you might have to go hungry. On disability? Sorry, no check for you. Still receiving unemployment benefits? Tough, no check for you. Actual people who don’t live in the upper echelons of the tax bracket like Obama and Cantor will be suffering the consequences. If you are like one of the many people in this country who don’t have savings, it seems your options are incredibly limited for how you are going to pay the bills. Not only will this raise the personal debt of everyone who is already struggling across the U.S., it’s going to raise interest rates from terrified credit lenders, eager to protect themselves. More interest equals more personal debt, more personal debt equals less spending money, less spending money equals less money put into a consumer-driven economy, less money in the economy means fewer jobs, etc. It is a system that eats its vulnerable in the name of compromise and lets be honest, compromise means absolutely nothing when it’s being forced upon you.

And if the debt ceiling is raised? We will avoid the latter to a degree, but social programs will still be massively cut, adding to the class of people who are regarded as disposable as all safety nets disappear. The plans suggested so far all include at least 1 trillion dollars in cuts, mainly in social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and federal pensions. There is much talk around new tax revenue, one of the driving forces behind the Republicans’ reluctance to commit to anything that would cause some of their favorite corporate lobbyists and party contributors like ExxonMobil and General Electric to have to start paying a bulk of the taxes that they have been able to magically avoid for many years now.

It is July 18th now and we are still watching  the political play against the practical, a waiting game to see in which way the bulk of the country will have to deal with being assaulted and financially stretched in the name of taking one for the team and compromise.

And like I said, compromise is great, so long as you are the one not having to reap the real consequences from it.

4 replies on “Real Talk: The Debt Ceiling Crisis”

I think the great take away point here is that this is a sophisticated political game that both parties are playing. Both parties have been for and against debt ceiling increases in the past. During the Bush administration Obama and Biden both voted against debt ceiling increases while Cantor and Boehner voted for. I think it’s extremely unfortunate that in America all of our choices are dichotomous.

As a Canadian I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about the debt ceiling, but frankly haven’t been paying much attention as I couldn’t understand a lot of the jargon. This is astounding. Disgusting. Amazing in the very worst way. The fact that there are so many people who vote for, and identify as Republicans, and rely on these very things… it just blows my mind. I can’t even string a coherent thought together.

I’d be interested to see how this issue was being portrayed in America’s major news outlets. In Canada, there are brief mentions on the radio (my main source of news) and the tone is very much, “Oh man, sucks for those guys,” but I can’t help but think that this will have serious repercussions elsewhere.

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