Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bachmann Walsh Head Explosion

I listen to NPR. A lot. I go through phases while listening to NPR on my daily commute. There will be several days where I listen on the way to work, listen on the way home, listen at home, and all the while thinking, "Well, that's interesting" or "Hmm, I didn't know that." or even "Wow, that's really kinda' boring... next." And then I have days where I want to shake the holy hell out of the people whose voices are invading my car. Yesterday, that voice was Michelle Bachmann's when she said this:
This is a misnomer, that I believe that the president and treasury secretary have been trying to pass off on the American people and it's this, if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion that somehow the United States will go into default and we will lose the full faith and credit of the United States. That is simply not true.
Um... really? Because I'm not an economist nor am I a member of Congress, but here's how I understand it: The U.S. government spends more money than it takes in. To do this, it must borrow money. But a while back, Congress set a limit (aka "debt ceiling") on the amount of money the U.S. government could borrow, so whenever we hit the limit, Congress has to raise the limit (again), which happens pretty regularly. We are about to hit that ceiling, meaning that the U.S. government cannot borrow any additional money. Which clearly means that the U.S. government will not be able to pay out on its obligations.

Now I know what Ms. Bachmann means. What she means is that the U.S. government does take in enough money to allow it to pay the interest on our debt, meaning that we would not officially default on our debt. But in order to do that, the President would need to decide where the money coming in should go and would have to decide that it should go to pay interest on government bonds and not to any number of other places (you know, about 1.1 trillion other places). Sure we can probably pay the interest and some other important stuff. But we can't pay all of it. Which of the other entities that are owed money will not get it. Should soldiers still get paid? How about Social Security recipients? Federal prison guards? How about all the people who work in the federal courthouses? The CIA? Should we take a break from investigating terrorists while we sort out this whole "debt ceiling" business? How about TSA screeners at airports that we simply had to make government employees after 9/11? What about border guards and the INS? Can we stop worrying about undocumented immigrants for a few months?

The list obviously goes on and on. And clearly it's not all that easy for everyone to agree on which areas to not spend money on or we would have done it already. And usually in these cases, I just shake my head and realize that our nation's leaders know a whole lot better than they say on TV and on the radio. They know darn well that this is something that needs to get done. They know darn well that this isn't something that "the President is asking for," but that it's something that is required in order for the nation to keep on keeping on without serious impacts on our economy and the world's economy. But Michelle Bachmann is running for President of the United States of America and so I am going to take her at her word. That if she were sitting in the big chair, she would not raise the nation's debt ceiling because it's simply unnecessary. So it's not like there was any real likelihood that I would have been voting for Ms. Bachmann next November, but now... I actively want her out of the race. Like now.

And then on top of all that, today Joe Walsh said this:

President Obama, quit lying. You know darn well that if August 2nd comes and goes there is plenty of money to pay off our debt and cover all social security obligations. And you also know that you and only you have the discretion to make those payments. 
I know you have a willing media that protects everything you say and do, but have you no shame sir? In three short years you have bankrupted this country and destroyed job creation. You are either in over your head, don't understand what makes this country great, or are hell-bent in turning us into some European big government wasteland. 
Come on President Obama - quit scaring the American people and quit talking about band aids and peas. Lead for a change - get members of your own party to support a Balanced Budget Amendment
Really, Joe? I won't even get into the job killing thing. I'll deal with that later. But again, you are splitting hairs. The U.S. government is about to run out of money to pay its bills. And you're basically suggesting that it's all fine because people who hold US treasuries will get their money. Guess what... somebody's not going to get their money, Joe. Money that WE, the American people, promised to pay them. WE promised to pay federal workers who go to work every day and are due paychecks. WE purchased services, equipment, and goods from businesses and other countries and now WE need to pay for those things. WE promised unemployed Americans that we would send them a check every week to help them get back on their feet and hopefully become hard-working, tax-paying citizens again very soon. Someone that WE promised to pay is not going to get paid, Joe, and I for one don't like the idea of you turning us into a country of deadbeat debtors.

Ugh! Joe, Michelle, do me a favor. First, go read my previous post on the debt ceiling: One American Family. It's a parable; maybe it'll help you understand why we need to do this. And then... and this one is important... please stop speaking. At least for a little while. You're really making my head hurt. Seriously, a homemaker in the 'burbs should not be able to punch holes in your reasoned arguments a mile and a half wide. Next time you try to take us all to Crazy Town, try and think it through a little better, OK?