I don’t like politics, and I like to stay as far away from them as possible. So, last night, when the President came on the TV, I was watching the Bachelorette. I was kind of annoyed that Constantine and Ashley’s dramatic breakup was being interrupted by something I could not care less about. So I huffed with annoyance and Drew was like, “Everyone in the country should care about this.” And, well, you know, he’s right. So I listened to Obama and Boehner each give their speeches and tell us why their plan to get America out of the debt crisis was better than the other. Basically, it boils down to the following:
1. Obama advocated for a “balanced approach” of cutting spending while lifting the tax breaks for people that make more than $250,000 to generate additional income. We would raise the ceiling today, and potentially again down the road.
2. Boehner advocated for a “cap, cut, and balance approach” where we would cap government spending, cut programs to get under the cap, and *I think* add to the Constitution that the budget should always remain balanced. We would raise the debt ceiling so that we don’t default on our debts in the short term, but this would run out in 6 months.
Thoughts on the speeches:
1. Obama is a good speaker. At the same time he seems intelligent, sincere, and conciliatory.
2. But he makes my skin crawl when in one sentence he says he wants to get this done, and in the next sentence blasphemes Republicans for sticking to their plan. OK, you’re sticking to your plan too and said you’d veto the Boehner plan before seeing it, so it’s kinda misconstruing things to say your way is getting things done, and the other way is just being petulant. Cue why I hate politics?
3. Boehner gets on and, boy, does he need a new speech writer. It was like shoot from the hip, country George again and really is that the image you wanted to portray there?
4. Huh I didn’t know he was a small business owner, okay.
5. Just as combative as Obama, but speech-wise got into his stride and it felt more sincere as it went on.
So, then we cut back to the Bachelorette and I forget about the nonsense in Washington. Drew had gone to take the dog out during Boehner’s speech and I felt like there was tension slowly oozing out of the room. I cover Goliath in blankets and we laugh at his helpless face peeking out of the covers. I read a little of my book, and then tried to go to bed. But I was feeling anxious and couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up reading until I dozed off.
I didn’t sleep too well last night and this morning I find myself wanted to blog about politics of all things instead of getting a shower and starting my day. And I guess here’s where I landed: I don’t make $250,000 a year, but I don’t think it’s fair for those people to foot the bill for the country’s debt. I don’t think it’s fair to make anyone pay for actions that aren’t there own, like to government bailing out failing organizations during an economic crisis, or the sibling bailing a brother/sister out of reckless credit card debt. It’s very simple math: if you spend more than you can afford, you’re going to rack up debt. And to pay for that debt, you don’t go ask Mom or Dad for the money, you don’t go get another credit card and spend more. You put your head down, eliminate all the unnecessary spending in your budget so that you can put money aside every month to pay down your debts. It’s not easy, and it’s not fun, but that’s what you do. So, similarly, when the government racks up debt, the solution shouldn’t be to find more cash to lessen their responsibility of making hard cuts. Yes, I know Obama said that even under his plan they would be making historic cuts to the budget. OK, well we just came out of a huge war, so there kinda SHOULD be some pretty historic cuts. That still doesn’t make it okay to add extra burden to a sliver of the population. Last night I was mildly wondering about the feasibility of surveying the 2% of the population that make more than 250k. Obama said last night that most people favored his approach, and that the very rich were willing to make this sacrifice. Okay, let’s ask them. Perhaps I’m completely wrong and these people really WOULD say, hey, I have enough to go around and here’s my excess. But perhaps I’m right and those people are saying to themselves, hey, I already pay more than my fair share in real dollars and percent of my income. Why should I pay more for the government’s spendy habits? Sorry, this a debt that Washington got us into, and it’s a debt that Washington should get us out of.
Oh, one last thing: I don’t know that mandating a forever balanced budget (if that’s what Boehner was advocating) is a good idea. Debt is useful for accomplishing more than you could do on your own, like buying a house, or starting a business. These are (or should be) net positive activities, and debt gives you the ability to make those things happen. But eventually you have to repay those debts. So, while I realize that the government is set up in such a way that the current administration will always be accountable for its predecessors’ actions (whether budget-related or not), that’s the reality. Government is not there to raise the Democrat or Republic Rah Rah flag and prove how they did so much more right than the other. It’s about taking responsibility for the situation we’re in, and doing what any red-blooded American would be expected to do–put your head down, and cut spending to the point that we can live within our means. I’ve never in MY LIFE wrote to my Congressman or the President, and I certainly don’t intend to live and breathe this stuff like so many do. I really respect those people, even more if they can apply a consistent framework to analyzing different issues and scenarios without the haze of politics diluting their judgment. For me, I feel strongly enough to write in today to make my voice heard, and then will slip back out of this politics world, back to my real life where I only have to deal with the question, “What’s for dinner?” as my biggest trial for the day.