The BIG Problem is the Excessive Spending, not the Debt Ceiling
I don’t know what’s more annoying in the budget debate to raise the debt limit. The cries on the left for the Republicans to quit being partisan. To instead propose a true bipartisan bill that has a chance of passing the Senate. And by ‘bipartisan’ they mean one that gives the left everything they want. Or is it the doom and gloom being bleated by the president, Congressional Democrats and the mainstream media if the debt ceiling isn’t raised (see Debt-ceiling threat has Wall Street scrambling by Nathaniel Popper and Jim Puzzanghera posted 7/27/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).
Without a deal, the most feared scenario is that the U.S. will miss payments on its bonds and default — which financial experts say would be disastrous. While still considered unlikely, the prospect is popping up more in conversations…
No. This can’t happen. There’s enough money to pay interest on the debt. And to issue Social Security checks. But they will have to make cuts elsewhere in some nonessential areas. Like in some cabinet departments (Education, Energy, EPA, etc.). This is all fear peddling by the Obama administration to do one thing. Raise the debt ceiling. So they can keep spending. And this is the BIG problem.
The more likely scenario that investors are preparing for is that a temporary deal is struck to lift the debt ceiling. But such a makeshift plan is unlikely to allow the U.S. to maintain its AAA grade with bond rating companies. Citigroup analysts say the odds are 50-50 that the U.S. will be demoted to an AA rating for the first time ever.
Such a downgrade could lead to a temporary market panic. In the longer term it could push interest rates up for everyone from bankers down to ordinary people taking out car loans, and weaken the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency.
Even if they raise the debt limit in time there is a far greater problem. And yet few are talking about THIS problem. The excessive spending that will ultimately cause the credit downgrade.
To Avoid Credit Downgrade will Require $4 Trillion in REAL Spending Cuts
And it’s no secret. S&P was very explicit in their report of what would cause a credit downgrade. Unrestrained government spending (see The Real S&P Warning: A $4 Trillion Deal or a Downgrade by Veronique de Rugy posted 7/19/2011 on National Review).
As the debt-ceiling showdown heads into its final stages, the political maneuvering has intensified. Yet I fear that we are losing sight of the only reason why the fight over the debt ceiling matters: It forces a discussion of the country’s real problem — unrestrained government spending and the tremendous fiscal imbalances that jeopardize our financial safety.
This is the real message in the July 14 S&P report.
First, S&P writes that unless there’s a credible $4 trillion deal within the next three months, they will downgrade us. By “credible,” S&P explains, they mean a plan that will actually be put into place (i.e., not one where the tax increases happen but not the spending cuts). Not $2 trillion, not $1 trillion, but $4 trillion. And it has to be credible.
That means REAL spending cuts. Not those ‘future’ kind that never happen. Those that Democrats have promised time and again only to renege on those promises. Or the base-line budgeting type of ‘cuts’ that still increase spending. The onus is all on Obama and the Democrats. Because they are the ones steadfast in their opposition to any real spending cuts.
The Electric Car – Typical Wasteful Government Spending
To get an idea of their voracious appetite to spend, consider the electric car. What the economy of the future is based on. Green energy. The thing that’s going to make America rich and prosperous again (see California dials back its electric car credits by Eric Evarts posted 7/26/2011 on Consumer Reports).
In large part, EV appeal was greater in California due to a $5,000 state rebate that came on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit. With the tax credits, the price of an all-electric Nissan Leaf could be as low as $21,000, making it cheaper than a Toyota Prius and putting it on par with other small cars. (The Chevrolet Volt was not eligible for the state credit, although it does receive the $7,500 federal tax credit…)
While the price of electric cars is going up for California drivers, other factors still make the Golden State more attractive than most for electric cars: California uses no coal to generate electricity; its major electric utility companies have time-of-use rates and special power rates for electric cars, effectively lowering their energy costs; and perhaps most importantly, pure electric cars are still eligible to use carpool lanes on the state’s notoriously congested freeways with just a driver onboard. In addition, public charging infrastructure is on a faster track than it is elsewhere in the nation.
So that’s $5,000 from the state. $7,500 from Washington. That’s a discount of $12,500 (37.3%). And yet the price of the Nissan Leaf is still $21,000. But that still isn’t enough to make this car sell. They need a subsidized electrical rate as well. Government at all levels is paying a lot of our tax dollars to make a car no one wants to buy. And this is the kind of spending that they just can’t cut. Wasteful. And this is only one example from the multitude.
Repeal Obamacare – Save Money, Please the People
Cutting $4 trillion over 10 years will not be easy. But we can halve this number with one stroke of a pen (See By a Margin of 21 Points, Americans Favor Repeal by Jeffrey H. Anderson posted 7/27/2011 on the Weekly Standard).
While President Obama’s notion of a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction isn’t written down anywhere, it’s quite clear that it doesn’t involve repealing Obamacare (despite the fact that the health care overhaul would cost over $2 trillion in its real first decade, from 2014 to 2023). Polling, however, strongly suggests that it should. The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that, by a margin of 21 points (57 to 36 percent), Americans support the repeal of the centerpiece legislation of the Obama presidency.
Repealing Obamacare would be a step in the right direction. It will save $2 trillion in spending that is pushing the U.S. toward a credit downgrade. And the people don’t want it by a margin of 21 points. Save money. Please the people. It’s a no-brainer for responsible government. If only government was responsible.
The Choice – Cut Spending or Downgrade U.S. Sovereign Debt
The president said we need to live within our means. And he’s right about that. But living within our means doesn’t mean taxing and borrowing more to pay for out of control government spending. Living within our means starts by NOT spending money we don’t have. Not to spend first and figure out how to pay later.
And just because other presidents raised the debt limit doesn’t mean we have to raise the debt limit. You don’t justify bad behavior with bad behavior. We’ve borrowed too much. The credit rating agencies have spoken. We need to cut spending. And not get all professorial and lecture the American people that we need to be ‘responsible’ and raise taxes to pay for the government’s irresponsible spending binge.
We either cut spending. Or Obama and his Democrats will downgrade U.S. sovereign debt for the first time in history. Those are the choices. And a good place to start would be to repeal Obamacare. Because that’s all future spending. All $2 trillion. Not like Social Security or Medicare. You can cut Obamacare. And no one will miss it.
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