by Guest Blogger Steve Vaughan
You can’t be an American patriot and advocate that we default on our debt.
If you believe in American exceptionalism, you can’t also believe that our country should behave like some Third World banana republic and not pay its bills.
That’s aside from the fact that the international monetary system is based on the bedrock that “the full faith and credit of the United States” actually means something. We inherited that role from the British. No one is prepared to inherit it from us. The Chinese don’t abide by international monetary norms. I suppose if the Tea Party throws the world into a period of economic chaos that will make the Great Depression look like a minor slump; Germany might emerge as the central economic power. That would be pretty stupid given that our problems are fixable, easily fixable, given the political will.
But that’s not what one is hearing from the political right this week, with the federal government shut down for two weeks.
Instead, we hear serious arguments put forth that it would be better for the U.S. to default on its debt now, rather than later. Because these “conservatives” believe that this is it for America that we’ll never pay our debt back or get our financial house in order and that default is “inevitable.”
They’ve given up on America.
Not me. I say, let’s get the government back open without holding the Affordable Care Act hostage. And let’s raise the debt ceiling so we can pay the bills on what Congress has already put on the credit card.
Then let’s look at what we can do to get our financial house back in order.
Spending cuts? Absolutely. Let’s start with the oil depreciation allowance, all farm subsidies and about half our military installations in Europe – which were designed to perform a mission that no longer exists.
Then, let’s do some common sense entitlement reform that everyone knows we need. Phase in a higher retirement age and eliminate the income cap on Social Security taxation. It wouldn’t break my heart to see Social Security means tested either.
That’s about all it would take to put us back on the path to fiscal sanity that we were on before we decided to fight two wars and fund a major entitlement reform on the credit card.
And then conservatives can go back to whining about social issues and how America’s morals are going to Hell in a hand basket – because that’s what they are really good at.
Steve Vaughan is a reporter and political blogger who has at various times worked on political campaigns and written speeches for prominent officeholders.
In fact, if you want to remove the cap on Social Security taxes, you _have_ to means-test benefits, or all you’ve done is kick the can down the road. Benefits are currently conjoined to “contributions”, so removing the cap is just waiting for the current demographics to retire to get us right back in this position.
Didn’t see any mention of raising more revenue in conjunction with much-needed cuts in spending. Not being an expert in our government, but knowing how to balance my own house’s budget, I would think it would be hard to pay down the debt on cuts alone. More revenue would be helpful, would it not?
Kerry, raising the income cap brings more money into the Social Security trust fund and, as Mark said, if you then means test, you extend the life of that system. We do have a problem on the revenue side as well as the expenditures side of the operational budget, but if we simply let the Bush tax cuts expire and the economy continues to grow, hopefully at a slightly faster rate the farther we get away from the Great Recession, the revenue side should take care of itself.
I agree that SS should be means tested. Millionaires don’t need their SS checks. It should be treated as “poverty insurance” which you get if you need it when you retire. But that’s the subject for another blog.
Thanks, Steve! Here’s hoping cooler and saner heads prevail in the near future.