Fiscal cliff deal short on moral courage

America’s financial crisis has nothing to do with a difference of opinion on the solution. With politicians who lack moral courage, our country will continue a downward spiral. Photo: bigstockphoto.com

WASHINGTON, DC, January 4, 2013 ― “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” The observational humor of Mark Twain is timeless. He could as easily be talking about today’s Congress, the president, and the fiscal cliff deal as commenting on the politics of his own time.

In 2010, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, declared that “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” Now that Congress and the president have made a budget deal that does almost nothing to solve our deficit or long-term debt crisis (and critics say it makes it even worse), experts are wondering out loud if the United States is at risk of squandering its global influence.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency stated in a commentary, “[America’s] politicians have chosen to kick the can down the road. … The can will never disappear.” It then warned that the United States was in danger of falling “into an abyss you can never come out of.”

If even the Chinese, whom one might assume favor American decline, can see the self-destructive absurdity of our actions from the other side of the globe, how can our own politicians be so blind as to not see the same from inside the Beltway? 

The reckless behavior of our government has nothing to do with intelligence, insight, inability to see the peril, or even a difference of opinion on the proper solution. It has everything to do with individual moral courage.

Pundits and politicians tell us repeatedly that we are heading down the road to becoming Greece, but even that is sugarcoated enough to cause national cavities. Greece’s total debt of $407 billion is 175 percent of GDP; America’s just crossed 100 per cent.  But, America borrowed as much as Greece’s total debt just in the last four months.

Our debt is 39 times the size of Greece’s. America’s debt exceeds $16 trillion and continues to climb. The Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2022, just the interest payments on U.S. debt will exceed $624 billion. There is no consortium big enough to bail us out.

We are issuing so much debt that we must use intragovernmental bookkeeping trickery to keep up. For example, the Federal Reserve buys bonds from the Treasury (money from thin air) and the Treasury borrows from the Social Security trust fund. Using such accounting slight of hand, the federal government has lent over $5 trillion to itself with “intra-agency” loans. About half of that came from our taxes – money that each of us paid and our employers paid into the Social Security trust fund from payroll deductions.

Trust? It is laughable to hear the president and our elected representatives talk about Social Security being solvent until such-and-such year when there is not one cent in that “trust” fund account today. Not one penny – nothing but treasury bonds - IOUs – from a government that is rapidly spending all of us and our children and grandchildren dead broke.

Meanwhile, the feds can still find hundreds of millions of tax dollars to funnel to Planned Parenthood to sexualize our kids, and to then abort their kids. It can also find the money to lard the “emergency” relief legislation for Hurricane Sandy victims with $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (more than the Corps’ annual budget) and $336 million for Amtrak.

America’s financial crisis has little to do with intelligence or skill. Born over 150 years ago, Twain had it right: “It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”

On the one hand, Twain should give us hope in knowing that we are not the first generation to shake our heads in bewilderment at the actions of those we have elected.

On the other, the time has come for every American citizen to demand moral courage, not more politics, from our politicians.


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Paul E. Rondeau

Paul E. Rondeau's research and writing on social issures has appeared in law journals, private publications, and  the popular press.  His work has been cited at the U.S. Supreme Court, United Nations and by best-selling authors.  He serves as executive director at American Life League.  He can be contacted at prondeau@all.org.

 

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