The Problem is not Debt, it is Dysfunction

Dysfunction JunctionThe federal deficit is averaging in the mid one trillion range for several years now. Total federal debt is almost $16 trillion. These are massive numbers for sure, and they should concern us, but it is not these numbers for which to focus our attention. Instead, our focus should be on the dysfunction in government, and I say this as a liberal who believes in a government of the people.

We aren’t bankrupt, as some on the Right say. Financially speaking we are not in a dire situation. We DO NOT need to make “tough decisions” as many Republicans and conservatives repeat. What we need to do is find a way to bring compromise back to Washington D.C. And let me be clear, you will not read about equivalence on this website, because it’s false to assert that both sides are equally responsible for lack of compromise. Both sides might be equally responsible for the size of the debt and the deficit, we can have that discussion another day, but both sides are not approaching compromise in the same way. Democrats and especially President Obama have been more than willing to work with Republicans, but Republicans are having none of it. Even the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner in an interview (I think on 60 Minutes) could not bring himself to use the word compromise. He said he didn’t like the word. Another member of congress said compromise means Democrats move to the Republican position. Really? That’s how you define compromise?

In what way will our massive debt and deficit come back to haunt us? It won’t, as long as people are confident that the United States will not default on its obligations. But if we keep having scenarios like last summer’s debt ceiling fiasco where Tea Party Republicans held the country hostage, then we will erode that confidence. That is the problem. Dysfunction. The inability to compromise by one of the two major political parties in this country, for the good of the country. So it is not the size of our debt that will doom us, it’s a failed political system, and the blame starts with Republicans. / photo by Nick Harris


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