Monday, July 25, 2011

The Damage Has already Been Done

The big news coming out of Washington this past weekend is that there is no news.  Nothing happened.  With the clock ticking down toward economic Armageddon the Washington version of Romper Room continued as Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a compromise on the debt ceiling crisis.  Instead they retreated to their respective corners to craft rival plans to increase the deficit. Nothing says compromise like rival plans crafted secretly behind closed doors.
This is serious stuff.  Yet the ramifications of failure and the urgency of the situation seem lost on Congress.
There are 8 days remaining before the August 2nd deadline.  If a deal is not reached by then the country will default on its obligations.  The disastrous economic consequences of such a default would be felt both here and abroad.  Interest rates will skyrocket, the stock market will decline and the value of the dollar will be diminished.  In fact many economists feel that the dollar will cease to serve as the reserve for the world’s currency. 
The bond rating bureaus have already voiced their concerns.  They have placed the country on a “watch” basis and have clearly stated their intent to lower the county’s AAA rating if a long term deal is not reached. 
How does Congress respond?  Boehner walks out of negotiations at the eleventh hour and accuses the President of being more concerned with re-election than the good of the country. Nothing says compromise like walking out of the room and sniping at the opposition.  Helpful!
In fairness, Boehner is not alone.  The airwaves have been full of caustic one-liners from both parties.
Unfortunately, the world is watching.  While our politicians hide behind their ideology and make political points with witty commentary the world is losing confidence in America.  Voices all around the world, from pundits to economists to world leaders are all questioning whether our current way of governing is capable of making big decisions.  They cite not only the current debt ceiling conflict but our erratic policy decisions both domestically and internationally.  While we fight amongst ourselves the world has past us by in education, research and development, infrastructure, investment, infant mortality and quality of life.  The country that rebuilt the world after WWII can no longer take care of itself.  Thanks to our political polarization the country our parents and grandparents fought for no longer exists…and the world knows it.
In many respects the August 2nd deadline really doesn’t matter.  The damage has already been done.


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