At every possible opportunity, politicians convince themselves that it's always better to kick the can down the road -- Democrats because they aren't remotely serious about debt reduction, Republicans because they're afraid of their own shadow.
Democrats don't need an excuse. It's a given that they would rather continue printing money and hurtle the nation toward financial bankruptcy in the name of compassion. They want to keep paying their constituents money we don't have for a few more years so that no one will have much in a few more years as the United States finally reaches European socialist status.
The Republicans do need an excuse to ignore their mandate. But they always have one: "If we allow the government to shut down, the people will be furious and throw us out of office" or "We represent just one-half of one-third of the federal government."
Each time we approach a leverage point (government shutdown, debt ceiling) where the Republicans could employ a little brinksmanship to force a recalcitrant Democratic Party to begin acting responsibly, they convince themselves that the possible consequences of pressing the issue aren't worth the risk. But do they ever really sufficiently make the case of how much greater the consequences would be if they were not to take action very soon?
Aren't you sick of people telling us how terrible it would be if some government services were shut down while being completely silent about how we're destroying our children's futures?
The irony is that by always capitulating to the Democrats' game plan to force inaction, Republicans are undermining their own goal of achieving a long-term solution to the debt crisis. Every time they cave, they are sending a signal to the public that the debt problem isn't really so bad as it seems. But it is. Please believe me; it is.
Why aren't the Republicans calling news conferences every day and explaining to the American people exactly what it will mean to our future -- our standard of living, our liberty -- if we continue down this perilous path? Why do they always have to wait until the moment of crisis is upon us -- and even then just respond reactively and sheepishly?
Why aren't they shouting from the rooftops every day that Obama isn't serious about reducing the debt? Why aren't they pointing to his abominable economic record, his reckless spending, his unwillingness to take responsibility for his failures and, most importantly, his refusal to come to the table now to address these issues?
Why aren't they publicly refuting his abject lies about how the "rich" are not paying their fair share instead of just smiling passively and shaking their heads? When are they going to show some passion, some indignation at the suggestion that the "wealthy" aren't paying their share when the facts, which I've stated ad nauseam, conclusively prove otherwise?
Does it really make sense that the Democratic narrative would carry the day -- a narrative that says that almost half the people in this country should pay no income taxes and have "no skin in the game"? Why are those who are able-bodied yet not contributing lionized and those working their tails off to support themselves and the ones not working demonized?
It's only a matter of time before the market responds to the persistent inaction of the political class. There is a growing sense that it really won't address the debt crisis in a meaningful way, and people soon will realize that we've been experiencing a counterfeit economic recovery that has been created by the feds' so-called "quantitative easing" policy.
When is enough going to be enough? Congress has raised the debt ceiling 10 times since 2002, when it was $6.4 trillion. It's now $14.29 trillion.
I'm not insensitive to the potential problems that could arise if we don't raise the debt ceiling, but the main one being threatened -- that the United States will default on its debt and the sky will fall -- doesn't ring true. We will pay our debt. The question is, What won't we pay when we shift money around to pay the debt?
For once, the Republicans should play hardball and force Obama and the Democrats to cooperate with them in implementing a plan to reform entitlements and drastically cut spending as conditions to raising the debt ceiling.
This may come as a shock, but Obama doesn't have much credibility with the people anymore and has even less political capital. The people who voted in November are still demanding action, and it's past time for Republicans to respond and let the chips fall.