Below is an extract from a New York Times Op-Ed artcle. The US is in steep economic an political decline. The question: will the present time (i) be a Sputnik moment, a moment in which Americans will come together reverse this decline or (ii) is the national “downgrade” a permanent one?
The debt-ceiling deal between President Obama and Congressional Republicans merely staved off a crisis of confidence for the moment. It does not address our immediate need to avoid falling back into recession, or our longer-term need to raise enough revenue to pay for the social spending Americans want.
Moreover, the deal sidesteps the fundamental challenge the country now faces: who will pay to fix what was broken during the past decade by irresponsible tax cuts, ruinously expensive wars, failures of regulation and the resulting housing and financial booms and busts?
We lost the first decade of the 21st century by squandering our wealth and borrowing as if there was no tomorrow. We risk losing this decade to an incomplete recovery and economic stagnation.
An economically responsible, politically feasible distribution of the costs of working our way out of the crisis will require higher taxes, a more efficient tax code, and restrained growth of social spending, particularly Medicare. To ignore these realities, and the contentious choices they entail, is merely to postpone the inevitable day of reckoning — and probably to make it worse.
Other opinion follows. This may be regarded as partisan, a needless dwelling on the past when the future is our concern. However, if we can’t figure out (and agree on) how and why we drove the car into the ditch and then far of the road, we are unlikely to get back on the road and stay there.
Has any president in American history left behind as much lasting damage as George W. Bush? In addition to two unfinished wars, he also set us on the path to our current financial mess. The Bush tax cuts, which turned a surplus into a growing deficit, have been disastrous. As James Fallows pointed out in a prescient 2005 article in The Atlantic predicting a meltdown, they reduced tax revenue “to its lowest level as a share of the economy in the modern era.” (In its downgrade report, S.& P. suggested that it did not believe that Congress would let the cuts expire at the end of 2012, as they’re supposed to.) Then, in 2003, Bush pushed through prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients. David M. Walker, then the comptroller general, described 2003 as “the most reckless fiscal year in the history of the Republic,” adding some $13 trillion in future entitlement costs.
The New York Times Editorial from August 9, 2011
The credit decision put a price tag on the agenda of dysfunction that Republicans brought to Washington, in which unnecessary crises are created to achieve their goals of shrinking government and bringing down Mr. Obama. When one of the two political parties announces its willingness to let the nation default, S.& P. essentially said, those who lend it money can no longer trust it to act rationally. Whatever flaws may exist in S.& P.’s arithmetic, that scolding is one that lawmakers richly deserve.
Lest one think the above to be an unduly partisan view, recall this quote:
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. ~Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, (R-Ky.), October 2010
Note that the “single thing” was not one of our pressing national priorities. The statement speaks for itself.
Department of fact-checking: some related campaign statements in Iowa.
And now for a magical solution
Prayer can be meditative, healing, and humbling. It can also be magical thinking. Given how Perry has said he would govern by outsourcing to the supernatural, it’s worth asking if God is ignoring him.
For further political comment, see What Would Eisenwhower Do?