In this Daily News article, Michael Cohen rightly points out that the debate between spending and tax priorities has always existed, but that the methods of trying to win the debate today represent ‘a fundamental breakdown of our national politics and the entering of a dangerous new phase in which extreme political brinkmanship risks becoming an accepted means of forcing policy changes.‘
Yes, we need to have a budget and fiscal debate. We have, all of our representatives, avoided the hard decisions and debates far too long. But the debt ceiling is simply a mechanism that allows the United States of America to pay its debts; to cover the costs of money that has already been spent by previous years’ approved budgets. We must pay our debts. There is absolutely no rational reason or justification against this simple fact.
“Refusing to raise the debt limit is a radical measure that is the policy equivalent of holding a gun to the head of the country’s economy and it’s full faith and credit.”
As I write this, I’m thinking about the money I have in my 401k. Remember, starting almost 30 years ago, the notion that Americans would work for a company most of their lives, helping that company to earn billions in revenues and then be supported by an employer funded pension began to erode. Today, we individuals pay for all of our own retirement through Social Security taxes and the money we must take out of our paychecks and deposit into 401k accounts.
In 2008, thanks to my government’s deregulation and complete lack of oversight of Wall Street, a handful of America’s largest banks and mortgage companies managed to throw the entire world into a financial recession – the most serious we have seen since 1929, and the first global recession of this magnitude in the history of modern industrialized world.
My 401k, whose value is derived from markets directly effected by the Great Recession, lost nearly half it’s value, and today is still nowhere near pre-recession levels. I effectively lost more than a decade’s worth of life-savings thanks to our politicians and Big Business.
And today, while our politicians and Business fight over their own interests and risk America’s possible default, I’m wondering whether to cash out my 401k right now – ignoring the tax bill I will get from an early withdraw – just to insure I don’t lose any more of my life savings. I can use that money to make sure all the credit cards and car are paid off – because I also have to worry about those companies raising their rates, making a small debt suddenly much larger for me.
The markets have all dropped 5% to 10% this week alone, as a direct result of investor fears over possible default. Meanwhile, the Tea Party seems to think this is all OK.