Now that the preliminary fights — last week’s relatively-trivial struggle over a mere $38 billion in cuts — are over, we are about to proceed to the most important national debate of our lifetime.
This is the imminent vote in Congress to raise the national debt ceiling. Without an affirmative vote by Congress and subsequent presidential signing, the federal government will no longer be able to borrow money by issuing debt (selling U.S. Treasury bills) and will then soon be incapable of paying its bills, including interest payments to U.S. bond holders.
In effect, we will “go bust.”
Or, the United States of America — the greatest nation ever created — will have squandered all we have been given and spent ourselves into Third World status.
But there is indeed another option: We can use this upcoming debt-ceiling vote to force the radical spending and tax changes that are necessary to set us back on a sane course.
Specifically, this means we must do the following:
- Fix the negative long-term downward trend of Social Security. The same applies to Medicare.
- Overhaul Medicaid. Medicaid is rife with rip-offs from nursing homes and doctors.
- Get a grip on Pentagon spending. Spending here gets a free pass from too many on the right. The Pentagon needs an overhaul in its spending and contracting processes.
- Revamp the tax code. Make it fairer and more difficult to cheat the system.
All of these are wrenching steps, and they will all have to be addressed simultaneously in order to garner the necessary votes to raise the debt ceiling.
As of now, the votes are not available to pass an increase in the debt ceiling. The 87 tea party freshmen in the House have told Speaker Boehner they will not vote to increase the debt ceiling.
The White House and the Treasury Department are secretly in a state of near panic over the possibility that the debt ceiling will not be raised. Thus we have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save this country.
And the hand of God is involved: the tea party movement, which arose over the debt, is now positioned in Congress to leverage this debt-ceiling vote into a long-term plan to pay down the national debt.
In other words, the tea party movement is going to force the two parties and the political establishment inside the D.C. Beltway to undo decades of irresponsible federal spending.
The rhetoric will be epic. The anger real. The fear palpable. The demonizing of the tea partyers will be savage.
But, here is my prediction: by early summer, Obama and the left and Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and the right will make the grand bargain: major changes in all of the above, embraced by both sides, and forced by the courage of outsiders from the yea party who brought fiscal sanity to the process.
America will once again admit its problems and fix them. Thank God.
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