It is official…we’re broke! Today is the day that the country will exceed its’ debt limit. Unless Congress agrees to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion dollar credit card limit by close of business today, the country will default on its financial obligations. Translation…we can’t pay the mortgage and they are coming to take the car.
Like any family we have some shady temporary measures that we can use to delay the inevitable. Over the next three months Treasury Secretary Geithner will juggle the books, robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep the country afloat. Basically he will pay the house payment but forego the car payment to keep the wolves at bay. But that strategy will only work until the first week in August. Then we become Greece.
The debt ceiling needs to be raised. We have done it in the past…several times in fact. Congress has the power to do it. They raised it to pay for George Bush’s war in Iraq and they did it to pay for his prescription drug plan for seniors. But this time the Republican members of Congress are saying “not so fast my friend.”
House Speaker Boehner has said that he will not consider raising the debt ceiling unless spending cuts are enacted that exceed the increase in the debt limit. He says that everything is on the table…except raising taxes. The only way to meet his demands is to tackle entitlement reform. Senate Leader Harry Reid says that cutting entitlements is a non starter. The lines in the sand have been drawn.
Standard & Poors believes that the country has reached an impasse. They do not believe Congress has the courage to make the difficult decisions necessary to reach an agreement; and they have warned that the country’s credit rating is in jeopardy.
It is for times like this that we look to the President for leadership. The Boles –Simpson Commission, the Gang of Six and the Paul Ryan Plan are all well and good but the guy sitting in the White House is the person we turn to when we are in trouble…and we ARE in trouble.
The President has put to rest any questions about his willingness to make tough decisions in waging the war on terror. During an interview with “60 minutes” Defense Secretary Robert Gates referred to the President’s decision to order the raid that killed bin Laden: “ the most courageous decision I have ever see made by a sitting President”. It is time for the President to display that same courage in our war against economic Armageddon. Obama generated a great deal of political capital in eliminating bin Laden. His approval ratings have soared in the weeks since the raid on Abbottabad. It is time to spend some of that capital.
Everyone knows what needs to be done to fix this problem. The retirement age for Social Security needs to be raised, Medicaid needs to be reformed, the defense budget needs to be cut and the Bush tax cuts for the rich eliminated.
It is time for the President to weigh in.