The Congress has passed legislation that will end the partial shutdown of the federal government and allow for more borrowing to avoid a default.

That’s progress, Washington style. It’s tantamount to bailing a floundering lifeboat with a teaspoon.

Still, it had to be done.  The country–make that the world–was seriously questioning whether the United States was about to sink.

Yes, Americans can return to national monuments and hyper-sensitive Wall Street can calm down… for now, thanks to an act of legislative triage.

But really significant problems remain.

Washington’s political dysfunction is reaching new lows.  The legislative and executive branches could not reach agreement on even the most basic responsibility—funding the government—until it approached a crisis.

Ideologues rail against compromise, but no government can function without give and take.  In negotiations, an astute minority doesn’t overplay its hand, and a wise majority never squeezes the minority into humiliating submission because it knows that roles will one day be reversed.

But now deals in the nation’s capital are harder to come by than parking spaces. Trust is a scarce commodity.

While the politics swirl, and conflict drives the news cycles, the country continues a steady march toward fiscal peril.

The debt has reached $17 trillion and continues to climb.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, entitlement and other mandatory spending will rise by $1.6 trillion, or 79 percent, over the next ten years.

The bi-partisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles) concluded in its 2010 report “Our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path. Spending is rising and revenues are falling short, requiring the government to borrow huge sums each year to make up the difference.”

The commission recommendations include a balanced approach of spending cuts, tax, health care and Social Security reforms to bring spending back in line with revenues.  It’s a reasoned framework for a legitimate negotiation to repair the country’s fiscal house.

The Congress is supposed to have that debate now; it’s part of the legislation to avoid default and send government workers back to their jobs.  But we’ve heard that tune before, and it’s difficult to be optimistic given the magnitude of the challenge and the history of inaction.

A continuing resolution to fund the government and raise the borrowing limit for a few months is to fixing the debt what putting gas in your car is to rebuilding the engine.

Somehow Washington has to regain its footing, rededicate itself to the altruism of public service and ensure that we’re not repeating the same fight a few months from now.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Big John

    How did the two republican House of Representatives vote?

  • Obama -- You are No Ronald Reagan

    I was particularly struck by Obama's jab at Ronald Reagan and his defense of Big Government. Obama said, "We hear a lot that government is the problem. Turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways." Liberals have written approvingly about Obama as the "anti-Reagan," and there's a lot of truth to that.

    Reagan fought to cut taxes and shrink the size and scope of government. Obama has repeatedly raised taxes and given us Obamacare -- the biggest expansion of government in decades. Obama's government is collecting massive amounts of data on American citizens, punishing whistle-blowers and abusing the IRS in ways that would make Richard Nixon blush.

    Reagan's economic agenda produced a booming recovery. Obama's recovery (if you can call it that) is the weakest in American history.

    Ronald Reagan proudly defended American values abroad. He called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." Obama is weakening America's influence overseas, undermining our allies, telling Russia's leader just how "flexible" he can be and reaching out to the mullahs in Tehran.

    Toward the end of his remarks, Obama decided to spike the football with this remark: "If you don't like a particular policy or president, go out and argue for your position. Win an election."

    • GregG

      REALLY? Funny, I thought the national debt nearly tripled during Reagan's Reign. The reason the debt ballooned was due to Reagan's tax cuts. He drove us into debt with his supply side economic BS. Then the SOB raided the social security trust fund and raise SS tax rate. Then for the icing on the cake, ol Ronnie boy had to bust up all our unions and declare war on the working middle class. Oh, about forgot his brain storm called the North American Accord. Which was nothing more than a way to open the door for the mass exit of American jobs years later. Bottom line, we are today reaping the rewards of The Great Ronald Wilson Reagan economic agenda. Sweet isn't it?

      • Shadow

        Still on the Kool-Aid, I see.

  • Shadow

    The only good news out of this game of Kick the Can is that we are closer to bankruptcy and that will solve all our problems. Nobody has nothing. Keep your Confederate Money, the South will rise again.

  • Bean

    Someone mentioned Senator Byrd. All I can say is this- If he were still in office, there would have been money equal to the Dam money McConnell negotiated with Dems. 49 states would have been screwed during the process, but Byrd would have come thru for us, regardless of what it cost the nation as a whole

  • Tag

    "The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on the public".

    Cicero - 55 BC

  • DWM

    Good discussion, but I think it ignores the impact of Obamacare on the economy. What we are going to see is increased debt as a result of this legislation and a huge wealth transfer. People currently uninsured will now have insurance paid for by those that are already taxed to pay for all the other welfare programs. So what will happen to my health insurance premiums is that they will go up, I will be forced to increase my deductibles to fit those costs into my budget, which will result in me paying for someone else to go to the doctor, while I can't afford to use it because I'll got a $5000 per person deductible.

    Tea Party beliefs in limited government and personal responsibility for taking care of yourself can't be blamed for the embarrassment that just concluded in Washington. We need to stop talking about the symptoms and identify the cradle to grave mentality started by FDR that is at the root of 18 trillion in debt. The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money. I didn't coin the phrase, but it as true as can be right now. I think Obamacare will get us to that point.

    Then you will understand the need of thousands of additional IRS agents. People will attempt to do business by cash for services and products to lower the AGI which will lower their tax burden and their cost of health care.

    Why is it not considered greed to want to take someone else's money but it is considered greed for them to want to keep it?

    • mntnman

      One mistake -- our defense budget is a huge part of our debt. A huge part. Saving the banks, the savings and loans, etc -- a huge part of the debt. Tax benefits to business. A huge part of the debt. Necessary? You decide, but its not all "cradle to grave" in that deficit.

      • GregG

        And boy would I love to see an honest break down of the defense budget. As in.....where the bulk of the $$ goes. I'm guessing that it is not into the salaries of our enlisted men and women nor providing retirement and medical benefits to these enlisted men and woman. I feel safe in saying that the biggest % trickles right back to the accounts of big business in the form of military contracts. Which I'm sure you will find is the same big business that contributed large amounts of money to John Doe's campaign fund to get him elected. Funny how that works. Like I have said, big business controls every aspect of our government.

        • FungoJoe

          But remember one thing, when Boeing wanted to move a factory from Washington State to South Carolina, a right-to-work state, labor unions went to court to block the move. That move could have saved taxpayers millions/billions of $$$ on miltary hardware, but the unions balked. Figure that into the equation too.

          • GregG

            And chances are the "savings" that would have came from the reductions of labor costs (wage and benefit cuts to us working people) would have gone straight into the pockets of the CEO and upper management. I doubt that the price of the military hardware would have decreased one penny. That's the answer you were fishing for from me wasn't it Fungo? But, as I have said many times, unions are not perfect. But in my lifetime I can see where Unions were a bigger asset to our economy even with some corruption than allowing big business to have their way with labor. We are living in your wonderful God Reagan's trickle down economy. Even a blind man can see that our economy is getting worse and the gap between the have and have not's is getting wider and wider.

        • bulldog95

          I have no doubt that it works like that. Thats how the stimulus worked, solyndra and all those other green jobs that had ties to big campaign contributors to Obama and other democrats. Dont get me wrong, I know this stuff happens with the republicans too. It still doesnt make it right but it needs to stop.

          • GregG

            And how we stop it is the big question. I have a few ideas, but I don't want to give Fungo a coronary heart failure.

    • Hop'sHip

      So you are calling for the elimination of all safety net programs, including Medicare and Social Security. You get my plaudits for honesty. Where do you and the Tea Party stand on military spending, given that we spend more that the next 10 countries combined? And are you at all concerned by the abundance of evidence that we have the greatest level of inequality when compared with our past and other developed countries.

      • bulldog95

        Greatest inequality ever? Thats what happens when certain segments never own anything. Thats what happens when the government pays your rent with HUD, you never own a house to to get equity. Thats what happens when you get SSDI for yourself and your children. You get enough to barely skate by. You never have to work because you just get by with everything out there, HUD, SS, SSDI, SSI, foodstamps, free phones, etc.. Its never enough to let you build equity, but its enough to keep people content to keep going this way.

        • Hop'sHip

          So you argue to eliminate all these programs because people on them have been induced into laziness and it would force them to work harder (a good proportion of these people are kids and old folks, you understand) and the result would be less inequality. You truly believe that?

          • Hop'sHip

            I think most of all you think failure to agree with you is boorish. Complaining about sarcasm from the one who has given "blame Bush" several times? I need to see some empirical evidence supporting your contention of the impact of support programs on wealth buiding among the poor.

          • bulldog95

            Well Hopship, I just wanted to make sure you didnt think I was calling you stupid as obtuse can be taken to mean. But yes you tiptoeing and being stubborn can be boorish. Your attempts at sarcasm can be boorish.

            I did say that the handouts were a part of it. What you mentioned with policies for the rich is another part of it. I can admit that is also a problem but do you think being people content and not building equity is also a part of the problem?

            There is no reason why rich companies can write this and that off and end up paying no taxes. I am not thrilled that the corn industry, the sugar industry, the oil industry are being subsidized. However the president has done little to clean it up, one of his economic advisors Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE made it to where GE paid no taxes.

          • Hop'sHip

            Boorish? While that sounds even worse than obtuse. Well at least you didn't recommend like Fungo that I exercise my second amendment rights on myself. Thanks for the education, dog. Now I finally understand the roots of the inequality. To think I foolishly suspected that it had to do with policies favoring the rich and powerful.

          • bulldog95

            HopsHip:

            Yes that is what I am saying, that it simply exists and a side effect of it is inequality. HUD pays for the rent, not allowing you to actually own the home, thus building no equity. All of the other programs gives out money but never enough to get ahead of the game. Too many people are stuck in this pitfall where they are able to skate by, but never get ahead. So go ahead and look in the past and see how many people were on said assistance and look at the inequality gap and one can easily draw a conclusion that this could be part of the problem. It is not the only cause though.

            And no, I am sure you can not get disability for being obtuse, at least not how I inteded the meaning to be, which was boorish.

          • Hop'sHip

            Maybe I am obtuse, but I am having difficulty understanding your position. You are not calling for elimination of these programs or even tightening eligibility criteria for them but just pointing out that there existance contributes somehow to the inequality the country currently is experiencing. Am I getting closer? I appreciate your patience dealing with the obtuse. By the way, is that a condition that will allow me to get disability?

          • bulldog95

            Doing it again HH. Can you not be so obtuse for a minute. I mentioned nothing about eligibility either.

            I simply said there is an inequality problem and part of that reason is people being content and keep on keepin on never building any equity due to the previous mentioned reasons.

          • Hop'sHip

            OK dog. I'll try not to put words in your mouth. So you are not calling for elimination of these programs but tightening eligibility because there has been gross abuse? How would you go about tightening eligibilty? If I am misrepresenting you again, I apologize. Just trying to understand your position.

          • bulldog95

            There you go again trying to put words into peoples mouths while not actually trying to confirm or deny my statement.

            A good portion of kids are on them huh? I am just making sure that kids means under the age of 18. If thats the case it goes to the parents to do with as they wish. Children cant apply for foodstamps, their parents do. Children dont apply for HUD, their parents do. Children dont apply for SSI, their parents do it.

            And did I say lazy? Nope, I said it has made people content to keep on keepin on. I didnt argue to eliminate those programs, I simply pointed out a reason as to why their is inequality. This is a side effect of entitlements.

  • bulldog95

    So heres something for people to think about. The ACA says that if you dont have health insurance that meets the ACA standards then you get a fine, err a tax.

    When will those fines start going out to people? I am guessing at the first of the year? When is all this CR and debt ceiling coming around again? The first of the year you say? What will get more air time on the news? The fines and the lack of people that signed up for the ACA or the DC gridlock over the budget and the debt ceiling? The gridlock bought Obama cover for the epic failure of the rollout, not 100% cover but enough that it wasnt as bad as it could have been. The left wins again when 95% of the news is about the gridlock instead of 95% about the amount of people being fined for not having coverage, most likely a fine because people were not able to sign up. Obama wins again.

  • Wirerowe

    There are three ways for dealing with insurance or entitlement short falls (I.e Medicare, ssi, and Medicaid) : (1) change legibility (2) increase revenues ( premiums for beneficiaries and taxes on everybody (3) and decrease benefits ( including higher deductibles and out of pocket maximums. I gladly pay my taxes. I am glad to use my taxes for the safety net. Ian prepared to pay more for the safety net but only if we also deal with eligibility and decreased benefits. We need all hands on the deck or our children and their grandchildren are going to be royally screwed by the greatest generation.

    • Hop'sHip

      Wire: If you are sober this morning I would recommend this article that our local paper carried. it is the best exposition that I have found onthe inter-generational problem you referred to.

      http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-obamacare-generational-warfare-20131014,0,5070394.story

  • Fed Up

    Term limits for that power hungry bunch would solve the whole problem..

  • Fed Up

    Term limits would solve the mess..

  • Dave Rao

    I'd think the new Pope should issue a Biblical Jubilee and rewrite everything. Even this commentary.

  • mntnman

    Hoppy -- Captain obvious. Of course we have long term problems. The question is what are the solutions? I have stated many times before that I am willing to do my part. What I am not willing to do is for me to do my part so others don't have to do anything. I refuse to be part of a part of a group who has to sacrifice, while others feel no pain.

    We are all on this Titanic together -- so, we can all fight to get on the lifeboats, or we can work harder to avoid the iceberg in the first place. I am more than willing to delay retirement, have to pay more for my medicare; but in return I demand that others pay up as well. Its only fair. And that means EVERYONE. We all need to be part of the solution. No carve-outs for special interest. (The wealthy and business.) No exceptions for certain voting blocks. (AARP.) Of course, they will all come out and scream why they should not be required to pay more, or get less. If we cave to them, then it will just be another prolonged fight to the edge.

    I will do my part, go ahead and gore my ox; just make sure you gore everyone else at the same time.

    • GregG

      As always, your spot on mntnman. While listening to Hoppy this morning I felt like pounding my hand on the steering wheel and screaming.....Where the hell do you think SS, medicaid/care funds come from. It comes from the pockets of the working man/woman. ENTITLEMENT?! Entitlement my.......backside! This money is taken straight off the top of my paycheck. It is EARNINGS!!! I earned it. CaptainQ earned. Fungo earned it. Even Hoppy earned it sitting behind his microphone. What part of this do some of these people not understand? And then they want to use the old baby boomer excuse. How about pointing your crooked little fingers at the real problem.....LACK OF JOBS!!! Pretty damn simple if you ask me. More people working 40 hours and being paid good wages, the more money being collected to fund SS and medicare/caid. Oh, but no we don't dare blame it on the greed of big business. Poor big business had to exit the US in order to profit. BS!! Like I have said many times before, you want to cut, then cut!! Cut out the tax breaks and loopholes of big business. Cut out all these subsidies. Cut out the tax exempt status of the church and all these other so-called non-profits. Cut out the fraud and all the "you fund my election and I'll make sure you get a MASSIVE return on your investment" that has taken over our government. Maybe I'm having my steam release a day early, but damn I am sick of hearing the term "entitlement". In my world there is a HUGE difference between the word entitlement and the word earnings.

      • FungoJoe

        How about lifting the ceiling on earnings for Social Security? The ceiling is around $115,000.00, and if ANYONE makes over that, then it is not subjct to SS deductions. That is wrong. All earnings should be subjected to SS deductions. All police/fire/paramedics should pay into SS, but they don't, they have their own lucrative retirement systems. But they all collect SS and Medicare.
        Repubs won't like that.
        Then make all collections go into the SS Trust Fund. Absolutely NO $$ go into the general fund. This will make SS solvent for decades, even with all the boomers.
        But the Democrats won't like that. They want to spend that $$$ faster than they can take it in, or faster than we can earn it.

        • Wirerowe

          Agree with both your suggestions Fungo.

      • Wirerowe

        Social security were originally set up as insurance programs but in that contract there was no guarantee of benefits. The premiums were jointly paid by the employer and the employee.The premiums for social security will not cover the payouts. Likewise ,Medicare the part a is nearly fully funded but part b is woefully underfunded. If the beneficiaries do not pay premiums equal to total cost of their benefits and refuse to pay more then partof that becomes an entitlement and not a premium paid benefit. Medicaid is all entitlement.

      • bulldog95

        I hate hearing it called an entitlement too, especially SS and medicare. If there was a way to opt out I would do it yesterday. These programs are not going to be there for this 36 year old when retirement comes. Its a ponzi scheme except for those that have never put a dime into but get plenty out of it.

        • GregG

          Let me try this again bulldog, got moderated......
          I agree bulldog95. I know that I shall never get back all that I have paid in over the years. Work longer and withhold more, yet cut the amount returned. Sickening. And these folks that have the audacity to include Veteran benefits when throwing around the term "entitlements" really get my blood boiling. To insinuate that the shameful, measly pittance that our Veterans receive for serving our country is an entitlement is as disrespectful as anything I can think of.

    • bulldog95

      thumbs up

  • Bob Melphis

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
    ~John Kenneth Galbraith

  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    I have no doubt that when the debt ceiling issue raises its ugly head yet again, in just a few months, the GOP (and particularly the Tea Party faction) will be bent on REVENGE.

  • john

    Solution starts with the voters of America. We can not vote the same people in term after term and expect things to change.

    • wvman75

      I'm just glad that Manchin's gun grabbing, suddenly Obamacare loving butt is going to be on the ballot in 2016.