The debt ceiling crisis continues to confound the USA’s politicians. News shows are in a 24-hour spin cycle as the two parties in Washington play a deadly game of chicken with each other. What is certain (to me) is that whether it is within the next week or the next year, American will face a financial reckoning because of its incredible debt load. The politicians continue to scratch at any option they can in an effort to try and find one more free lunch. Sooner or later, however, we will all realize there are no more freebies.
What is at the center of the current crisis is the inability to compromise. Both sides are going to have to agree to some unpopular budget cuts and tax increases in order to begin the slow process of correcting American’s financial imbalance. Therein lies the problem: our political leaders have one eye on the problem and another eye on re-election. Could it be that the greater financial problems cannot be solved without jeopardizing their political futures? If so, this reflects a much deeper issue for the American citizen.
On the July 24 edition of Meet the Press, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) made this point well:
… politics just reflects society. And what we are seeing today, I believe, is a new emerging governing coalition being built in this country, a new political center of gravity…. We are living at a time when society is the most complicated, interconnected, immediate we’ve ever seen. That also reflects on a world order that is being rebuilt. We haven’t seen a world order being rebuilt since World War II. So, obviously, what’s happening in Washington is going to reflect what’s happening across this country and the world. The emergence of the tea party, for example, whatever that is, a philosophy about government, that was born out of frustration, disappointment, high expectations in your leaders. To Doris’ point, you’re supposed to come to Washington to help govern, find solutions, solve problems. We’re not seeing that. This just didn’t start, by the way, with this president. I saw this in the Senate emerging over the last 12 years. Both parties are to blame. We have, I think, a vacuum of some leadership, some courage. Courage has never been an abundant commodity in Washington. And the last point I’d make, look at the last three elections in this country. We’re not a republic that swings wildly. Last three elections, back to back, threw parties out of power in those elections. What does that tell you? That tells you that the board of directors, the people who own the country, the citizen, the voter is going to take action.
Question: are we seeing a new world order being built, or are we still witnessing the destruction of the old world order that began at the end of World War II? I think the latter. Look at what happened between 1914 and 1945 – the center of gravity shifted in the world from Western Europe with Great Britain, Germany, France, and Italy the former great powers, to the United States and the Soviet Union as the new super powers. By 1945, the sun was setting on the British Empire, Germany lie in ruins and divided, France was defeated by Germany in the war and had lost its international prestige, and Italy was defeated. A generation later, the Soviet Union is gone and the United States is under the heavy weight of trillions of dollars in debt.
What do you think? Are we witnessing the passing of an American-dominated world order or will the United States find a way to regain its financial foundation and begin rebuilding its economic strength?
- Policy mistakes of historical magnitude (business.financialpost.com)
- Pawlenty: Obama not showing courage in debt crisis (seattletimes.nwsource.com)