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August 2, 2011

“…and the beat goes on”

Shawn Burns

[Editor’s Note: This column was written prior to the announcement Sunday night that a compromise had been reached in Washington to raise the debt ceiling.]


The end of days is upon us. The debt ceiling “crisis” has delivered us to the edge of the cliff, painted us into a corner and has us running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Well, at least that’s what our leaders in Washington would have us believe.


This is the game being played. But as the great Will Rogers once said, “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?”


All sorts of statements are – and have been made – by leaders from both parties. Things such as, “without an increase in the debt limit, we won’t be able to pay our bills next month.” Is that true? Or how much of that statement is true? The answer is that it all depends on whom you ask.


President Barack Obama has claimed that Social Security checks may not go out on time if the debt limit isn’t raised. Really? Is that true? Again, depends on whom you ask.


Can the politicians in Washington really afford the public relations nightmare of the sight of millions of wheelchairs and walkers flooding the streets of Washington in order to demand payment of their Social Security?


Here’s another good one from Will Rogers: “Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?” It appears that we are in the process of finding out the answer to that question right now?


Which of the proposed plans to resolve the debt ceiling “crisis” is better? Both of the plans proposed by each side were picked apart by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Neither plan came close to achieving mutually agreed-upon deficit reduction goals.


Leaders from both parties haven’t even been able to agree on the success or failure of their debt-ceiling negotiations. Our political leaders in Washington cannot even agree on who has the bigger bank account, who has the better vacation home, who has the best looking mistress, or even which one has the stronger fantasy football team.


And the game continues. “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for,” Will Rogers said many years ago.


Politicians and some financial “experts” claim that America’s credit rating could be downgraded as a result of this “crisis.” Hasn’t the damage already been done? The stock market has dropped every day for the last week. Confidence is in the toilet. The only other thing to do is flush.


The only thing leaders from both parties seem to agree on is that any proposal to address the debt ceiling “crisis” is to include spending reductions to deal with increasing deficits. But as is the case in the political games in Washington, each side wants to be in charge of the details.


And the game goes on.


"The average citizen knows only too well that it makes no difference to him which side wins. He realizes that the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey have come to resemble each other so closely that it is practically impossible to tell them apart; both of them make the same braying noise, and neither of them ever says anything. The only perceptible difference is that the elephant is somewhat the larger of the two,” said Will Rogers. What’s more amazing about that statement is that Mr. Rogers said it more than 100 years ago. Nothing has changed.


And the political grandstanding continues. At what and whose expense does this political game of checkers continue? Make no mistake about it; it is a checkers game our leaders in Washington are playing because chess is way over their collective heads.


The outcome of the game being played by Republican and Democratic politicians will have very limited consequences for them. It is the American citizen who once again carries the weight of the foolish partisan game being played out. And tomorrow, once this game is finished, the pieces will be lined up again on the checkerboard and a new game over a new issue will begin.


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