The battle over increasing the debt ceiling for the United States government ended today when Congress approved and the president signed a bill that would raise the current debt limit by 400 billion dollars. The House vote was 269-161 and Senate approved the measure 74-26. It was a hard fought battle that kept the nation and world on edge for days.
I’m greatly disappointed in the compromise–though pleased with some details–and have been thinking about a phrase that describes the ordeal we have just experienced:
You can’t see the forest for the trees.
Here are a few of the trees: The mainstream media is calling the debt ceiling compromise a huge victory for the Tea Party movement. They say that Barack Obama’s showed strong leadership, politics as usual was demonstrated by both parties, and that the “compromise” was a good thing in the end.
They are wrong.
These are just trees–not the bigger picture.
What’s really happened is that the Tea Party managed to erect a temporary speed bump in front of runaway government spending and begin to re-frame the debate. The “forest” of financial disaster still looms in front of us–dark and foreboding.
We must continue to fight to save our Republic.
Before we discuss the bigger war and battles that lie ahead, let’s look at the “speed bump” that was erected this week.
Here’s how the Family Research Council saw it:
“The framework…would raise the debt limit by at least $2.4 trillion and get Obama and congressional Democrats past their target date: Election Day 2012. In return for this generous political cover, Democrats would agree to a modest $1 trillion in supposed cuts spread out over 10 years; $350 billion of those “upfront” savings come from gutting national security resources.”
“A trillion dollars over 10 years is not sufficient to impress credit rating agencies, which have threatened to downgrade America’s credit status. In fact, Moody’s announced that: “Reductions of the magnitude now being proposed, if adopted, would likely lead Moody’s to adopt a negative outlook on the AAA rating.” The current plan does not improve upon either of those earlier plans.”
“In addition to the $1 trillion, the framework sets up a ‘special’ congressional committee that would seek $1.4 trillion in ‘deficit reduction’ by the end of 2011. Of course, for liberals, ‘deficit reduction’ is synonymous with ‘higher taxes.'”
“If the commission’s recommendations are not enacted, across-the-board spending cuts would be triggered, half of which (nearly $500 billion) would come from national security spending. Every honest observer knows the problem is entitlement spending, not the defense budget or a lack of revenue. Defense spending has been on the decline for decades, as a percentage of GDP. It is currently below its historical average of 5.2 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) grew from 2.5 percent of GDP in 1965 to over 10 percent today and represent 60 percent of the total federal budget.”
The Heritage Foundation saw the debt ceiling compromise in these terms:
“Unfortunately for taxpayers, most of these cuts are to what the country would have spent, not what we are spending. In other words, the government will keep growing, just at a slower rate. The Left will have the satisfaction of raising our credit limit for six months but spreading the pain of cuts over 10 years. Obviously, we have no way to estimate what inflation will be in 2021, but we can look back on the cost of living over the last 10 years and see that the value of the dollar diminished by about 24% since 2001. If the next decade is similar to the last, then $1 trillion in cuts today will be more like $800 million in cuts tomorrow. “
“To help hold Congress’s feet to the fire on deficit reduction, the deal does asks for a second wave of spending cuts this year. The only hitch is, those cuts would be determined by a select number of congressmen. It’s been dubbed the Super Committee, and judging by the description, there’s a lot to dislike. Twelve members (six from each chamber and six from each party) will have to find ways to slash the deficit by another $1.6 trillion before the end of the year. If they don’t, a surge of cuts to the defense and Medicare budgets would automatically go into effect.”
“On the bright side, the agreement does make a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment a condition of the final deal. Any victories the GOP can claim in this debate are owed to hard-core conservatives like Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Steve King (Iowa), and Louie Gohmert (Texas), who held firm in the face of enormous political pressure. Without their resolve, there would have been little to negotiate.”
So here’s what it all means–to get back to the “forest” analogy. I want to lay this out in stark terms so that you don’t miss the big picture:
Today, the United States government is 14.5 trillion dollars in debt. In less than two years we will be over 17 trillion dollars in debt–and gobbling up 25% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our historic average is 18%. We are currently running deficits of over 1.5 trillion dollars a year–for as far as the eye can see. We borrow forty- three cents of every dollar that we spend. Next year, the so-called “cuts” will be a measly 22 billion dollars.
That’s six days of federal spending.
A dirty little secret–the true “Satan Sandwich”of our current deficit binge–is that none of the “cuts” that are mentioned above are actual reductions in spending. Federal entitlement programs–currently 60% of the US Budget–increase 7-8% each year. All so-called “cuts” are really cuts in the growth rate of Big Government–nothing more.
Imagine your family bringing in $60,000 a year in income, but spending $100,000. You are $1,000,000 in debt and it’s begun to grow exponentially. To stop the bleeding, you decide to spend $107,000 next year instead of $108,000. And on and on.
If you did that in the real world, you would crash and burn.
Well, that’s the Federal Government “dealing with the problem.” There’s no real reckoning with reality–just a slight retarding of a nasty habit that will have devastating consequences in this nation and the world economy if we allow it to continue.
Yes, we do need to give the Tea Party legislators credit. Without 120 courageous members in the House of Representatives, the debt ceiling would have been raised with a yawn–and there would be no discussion of “cuts” of any type. During the first two years of the Obama administration, when the liberals controlled all branches of government, we spent four trillion dollars inflating our National-Debt-and-Government Monster.
Thanks to the Tea Party, a speed bump has been erected. It doesn’t stop the runaway car–it just slows it slightly. It’s a small victory in a big war, but unless we win the war, the United States is finished as a nation.
A black, ugly, destructive forest of financial disaster still looms in front of us. The liberal elements still control the White House and half of Congress. If we do not stop them, the United States as we know it will be added to the ash heap of history.
We will be Greece–times one thousand–and fade into obscurity.
As people of faith and courage, our marching orders remain clear.
1. We must decisively win back control of the United States Senate in the 2012 elections to stop the progressive spending insanity. We must increase our majority in the House of Representatives.
2. We must defeat Barack Obama in 2012 with a conservative candidate with spine and vision to make the hard choices to pare down entitlements.
3. We must pass a responsible balanced budget amendment and have it ratified by the states. Our leaders in Washington will never have the guts to do it.
4. We must change our current tax code from a job-squelching progressive income tax to a fair tax or a flat tax. This would make the United States the investment haven on the world.
5. Over time we need to pay-off our 14.5 trillion dollar debt.
To accomplish the above legislative goals, we need to change ourselves first. As individuals and families, we need to reject irresponsible debt and live within our means. We need give up our entitlement mentality and take more responsibility for our own lives.
The government does not owe us a certain standard of living. It owes us an “honest money–just society” that gives equal opportunity to all people and protects us from our enemies.
And to accomplish that, we need more of God in our hearts and practices.
This coming Saturday, August 6, “The Response” is taking place in Houston, Texas, and many cities around our nation. I encourage you to participate. It’s a national call, led by Texas Governor Rick Perry, for America to return to its God-fearing roots.
The Tea Party erected a speed bump–a warning.
But only a prayerful, repentant response to God can get us completely turned around and moving in the right direction as a nation.