SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 12, 2013

Armerding: Sad shutdown stories distract from debt crisis

(Continued)

Obama keeps saying members of Congress must vote to pay for spending they have already authorized. Which sounds good.

It really would be good if the president really meant “pay for.” But what he really means is that he wants Congress to authorize borrowing the money from somebody else, like China, so that country can pay for it, and we will owe them even more. The U.S. can’t pay its bills today, never mind tomorrow.

Raising the debt ceiling only papers over the problem.

Can you imagine a financial counselor telling a family drowning in debt that the way to get back on their feet financially is to raise their credit card limit so they can go even deeper in debt? And then when they reach that limit, just get it raised again?

A few spoilsports have pointed out what then-Sen. Barack Obama said in 2006, when President George W. Bush sought to raise the debt ceiling. He called it “a sign of leadership failure.”

“It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills,” he said. “It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.”

Whoa, sounds like something the “Hezbollah wing of the Republican party” (one of the gentler epithets lobbed at conservatives by liberals) would say.

If only the president would listen to the senator he used to be. Or at least acknowledge that he once said what he now accuses Republicans of being irresponsible for saying.

As a few sober voices have pointed out, the government “shutdown” (the majority of it is still operating) and the fight over the debt ceiling are relatively trivial distractions from the real danger — debt that will crush coming generations and that puts the nation in serious danger of default.

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