About Raising That Debt Ceiling

Question: What happens to a country when the education system is left to rot for a few decades?

Answer: The population grows ever more ignorant of matters it should really be cognizant of.

Take America’s so-called ‘national debt’, as an example.

For years, both Democrats and Republicans have played politics with the education of America’s children. In 2006, George W Bush proposed cutting spending on education by $3 billion, to help fund his two major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember his underfunded and mismanaged ‘No Child Left Behind’ program, that left more children behind than it helped?

Keeping people in ignorance, as any third world dictator will tell you, makes them much more malleable to manipulation.

Then comes said manipulation: “America is heavily in debt and we cannot leave these levels of debt for our grandchildren. Only we (the Republicans) are sufficiently responsible to force the government to take serious action to lower the debt.”

Most Americans today have no idea what the national debt is, and relate to it in much the same way they relate to their own household debt, which is exactly what the Republicans want them to do.

As a consequence, when Americans are asked whether politicians should vote to raise the debt ceiling – an essential task, without which the economy would collapse (a matter Republican’s are not heard hollering from the rooftops) – the result is:

  • 46% are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.
  • Only 16% are in favor.

When respondents were told that failing to raise the debt ceiling will cause America to default on its debt repayments, and advised of the consequences of that default:

  • 62% were opposed to raising the debt ceiling – a rise of 16%.
  • 32% were in favor.

Even when informed of the dire consequences of not raising the debt ceiling, almost two-thirds were still doggedly demanding it should not be raised. This is a spectacularly transparent example of the effects of propaganda on the poorly educated.

For those still in any doubt of a) the effects of not raising the debt ceiling, and b) the manipulation by Republicans (to their own political advantage) of the term, ‘national debt’, listen carefully to what Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has to say in this interview on MSNBC last night.[1]

In case anyone was left in any doubt after listening to Robert Greenstein, who is likely one of the most expert people in America on budgetary policy, the national debt is nothing like a maxed out credit card. There is, however, one similarity: if Tea Party Republicans succeed in their threats to filibuster the bill to raise the debt ceiling, and it isn’t passed, America’s credit rating will plunge throughout the world. Future American borrowing (which every nation needs to do) will cost much more. Just as credit card interest rates are hiked for bad payers, so will America’s be hiked.

This means a plunging economy, many lost jobs, and an almost certain return to recession, or more likely, economic depression.

Why would Republicans want to bring that about? The only possible answer is to gain political power. Yet again, politicians are playing fast and loose with the lives of those they’re elected to serve.

Republican politicians got themselves elected last November on a ticket of fiscal responsibility. Since then, they’ve dragged the US government through a mire of budget-cutting bills and debates. All of which, they say, is in the interests of ‘cutting the debt’ for the future of America.

To achieve this end, one of the measures Republicans intend to implement is cutting Social Security, but you’ve just heard Robert Greenstein say that Social Security is running a surplus each year. $4 trillion dollars of the ‘national debt’ is money purloined from the Social Security trust fund by previous administrations – in the case of George W Bush, to fund the Iraq war.

A not insignificant proportion of the so-called ‘national debt’ is nothing more than one US government department owing another US government department. Hardly a matter over which America’s grandchildren will lose sleep.

No sensible person would deny it is a good thing to reduce debt. America needs to do so. Cutting spending is one way, but it always, always, falls more heavily on those already struggling to make ends meet.

A better way is to increase national income, or the amount the US government receives. A fair system of taxation, with everybody paying according to their means and the wealthiest paying the most, is a more sensible approach to cutting national debt. It’s the one Republicans and some Democrats) are most obstinately against.

I wonder why?

To even suggest not raising the debt ceiling in this country is to propose plunging this nation into economic chaos. No responsible politician, who truly wanted to serve his/her country, would entertain the notion.

That some do is, at best, grossly irresponsible, and, at worst, verging on traitorous.

[1] “Robert Greenstein” AmericanProgress.org, 2008

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One Reply to “About Raising That Debt Ceiling”

  1. Thus far, no one in this ‘budget/deficit battle’ is acting like an adult and using what little brain power they have.

    Our leaders either don’t understand the consequences of not raising the debt limit, really don’t care what happens if the limit is not increased or are just plain contrary.

    If they devoted as much time to stimulating the job market as they have to ‘the deficit’, much of the deficit problem would go away.

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