While I'm sure it wasn't intended to be that way, I found "President Obama's message to Republicans in Congress using the media rather than actual face-to-face negotiations" yesterday rather insightful. Actually, it was the last couple of minutes that contained anything of value. The dog and pony show with the human backdrop of all the people who couldn't afford health insurance--but who could afford to travel to Washington DC on a workday afternoon to stand on a platform for ten minutes on national TV--was just the usual fluff from this administration. But the final few minutes got to the heart of what the government shutdown is really all about: This country is way too far in debt.
The President pointed out that the continuing resolution hung up in Congress right now isn't about keeping National Parks, the Smithsonian and NASA operating right now: "It does not authorize anybody to spend any new money whatsoever. All it
does is authorize the Treasury to pay the bills on what Congress has
already spent." We've already borrowed the money to run the Federal Government for this year--we just need to pay for what it cost to run it last year, or two years ago, or five years ago or heck, maybe even ten years ago.
The President then tried to compare the situation in Washington to that faced by debt-addled Americans at home: "If you buy a car and you've got a car note, you do not save money by not
paying your car note. You're just a deadbeat. If you buy a house, you
don't save money by not authorizing yourself to pay the mortgage. You're
just going to be foreclosed on your home. That's what this is about." I had to take to Twitter in the seconds following that phrase to remind the President that you actually save money by NOT BORROWING TO BUY A CAR and by PAYING OFF YOUR MORTGAGE AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!
And then finally, the President had this line--which was perhaps the most insightful of the entire speech: "And I want to underscore the fact that Congress doesn't just have to end
this shutdown and reopen the government; Congress generally has to stop
governing by crisis." If you ask anyone who is--or who has been--in over their heads in debt, they will tell you that life is nothing but managing crisis after crisis. There is the car break down, the kids get sick, their hours at work get cut--all at a time when you are least able to afford them. However, these are all events that families with their economic affairs in order handle with little or no stress.
It should be pointed out that the continuing resolution battle is just a prelude to the fight coming up over raising the Debt Ceiling AGAIN--which has to happen in the next two weeks. Let's hope our President doesn't have to go out there before the cameras and sound like a desperate consumer begging CitiBank to raise his credit card limit while the balance is 20-years past due.