30.7.11

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING?  Steve Chapman deconstructs the so-called debt ceiling crisis.
It's not a solution. It's a promise to come up with a solution, somehow, someday.

Why not just devise a remedy now? Because lots of voters will lose interest in fiscal discipline once they realize it means tangible sacrifice on their part. They might even exact vengeance at the polls. Getting voters to endorse frugality is easy. Taking money out of their hands is not.

Nor are our elected leaders addressing the real source of the problem, which lies in three federal entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Even ostensible hardliners evade this reality. Judson Phillips, founder of
Tea Party Nation, writes in The Washington Post that "Americans are tired of 'bridges to nowhere,' ferries to nowhere, neon light museums, cowboy poetry readings and cow flatulence studies."

But items like these make up a microscopic share of the budget. The big three entitlements, which Judson never mentions, account for 40 percent.However the debt ceiling turns out, the essential decisions are off in the future. If the past is any guide, that's where they will stay.
I recall President Clinton getting angry when he discovered that bond traders might be able to undo some of his -- or was it Hillary!'s -- tax and spend ambitions.  If the government will not commit itself to a sustainable fiscal policy, there will be consequences.

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