What does the debt-ceiling crisis say about our political and economic system?

Congressional leaders and the president came within days of a default before reaching a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. Today’s Question: What does the debt-ceiling crisis say about our political and economic system?

  • Hiram

    The moment our elected officials seriously contemplated defaulting on our debt, America failed.

  • GaryF

    We have gotten way, way too many people dependent on a government program.

    That with baseline budgeting, spending more than last year but not as much as you would like is considered a “drastic” cut.

    That we need term limits. NOW.

    That the baby boom has done a poor job of living within it’s means.

    The insatiable beast called government cannot be stopped.

  • Keith

    “We have gotten way, way too many people dependent on a government program.”

    Yes, and the biggest of these programs is called the Department of Defense. This extends not only to all the military contractors bellied up to the public trough, but also all of our bases worldwide, still fighting a 1950’s war against an enemy that no longer exists, paying for defense of countries who are perfectly capable of supporting themselves.

  • jerry

    Look across the world. Every government spends too much; either money for projects and programs or money for greedy dictators. Our government at least has some checks and balances. This infers that the platform is never level and we must constantly respond with the appropriate weight on the opposing pan to keep things balanced. Actually more like a guy on a unicycle, constant adjustment. We are near the edge and we need to respond appropriately to back away. I think people see this and I think it will happen. I’m glad people have a vote. We don’t have to riot and come to bloodshed to influence our leadership. I just wish more voters had better judgment. Every politician, good or bad, is there because of the collective judgment of their constituency. We can only blame ourselves for the results.

  • Howie

    July and August are typically slow news months, so the debt crisis was a gift to the media. Political theater with an enthralled audience.

  • Steve

    Let the people getting by on stagnant wages and earnings lose their homes. Let them go bankrupt on out of control health care costs. They’ll die off eventually and cease to be an issue. Let our children do the best they can with a dilapidated education system operating on an i.o.u. Just don’t ask the wealthy to pay the level of taxes they were burdened with 10 years ago.

  • Zeke

    So the Republicans have settled for what they negotiated and then ran away from 2 / 3 of it weeks ago. So they’re not just a bunch of fanatics, they’re a bunch of wild eyed, incompetent fanatics.

  • Rich

    The problem for progressives is that not very many Americans are progressive.

  • J Dre

    Debt is part of every household, every government. Austerity during economic downturns is wrong. But is the question: do we get what we vote for? Or is it, do we get who we are sold by the biggest campaign warchests?

  • Lou

    The debt ceiling crisis was handled in the way that most people expected it to happen – at the eleventh hour with a bill that no one liked but a majority could tolerate, What says more about our political system is why Congress is taking the month of August off when there is still so much work to be done such as efforts to end the FAA partial shutdown. For heaven’s sake, stay in Washington and do your job.

  • Chris Oinonen Ehren

    We don’t pick politicians for their reasonableness and intelligence, we pick them for their attack ads, their ability to raise money, and their ability to ferret out damaging info about their opponents. Then they get to Washington and do what they’re good at, chase money, start fights, and point the finger at each other. Really if we want different sorts of behavior, we need to find some way to improve our selection process.

  • Kay

    A global economic downturn has put pressure on political, social and economic systems all over the world. History shows that some of the worst despots and social movements rise to power in times like these.

    I believe U.S. elections will continue to show a lot of turmoil as people continue to try to figure out what needs to change in order to restore stability. We will see how long it takes us to figure it out this time.

  • Sara

    It says our political system is full of sickness and self-interest.

    This whole event made it apparent that a majority of the politicians involved were more interested in pursuing their self-stated goal of making President Obama a one-term president than doing what is best for the people of this nation.

    Purposely taking our country to the edge of economic collapse was entirely unnecessary and the attempts to lay the blame of our current economic circumstances at the feet of President Obama is beyond hypocritical. The Republicans may have memory loss about the world pre-2008, but rest assured that the rest of us do not and we remember squandered surpluses and historically unpresedented unfunded wars.

  • Tom C

    If kicking the can is good enough for MN. Then it’s good enough for the Nation…..

    “Politicians won and the country lost”

  • What it says is this:

    That a well organized and uncompromising minority (the Tea Party Republicans) can become an effective majority not only over their piece of Government, but the entirety of the government.

    Their willingness to allow default gave them enormous power in the debt ceiling debate.

    Now that they have tasted that power, they will be back.

    Eric Cantor is the most powerful man in America.

  • Lee

    Politics = TERM LIMITS.. good enough for the president; good enough for everyone else…… starting with our cities and communities.

    Economy: We need a trust busting movement (Big banks)…….In the meantime. Put your money in the smaller banks and credit unions and burn your credit cards.

  • It is increasingly clear that our government has been purchased by corporate interests. The Stepford Robot Tea Party Candidtates were financed by entities like the Koch Brothers. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a huge corporate-sponsored entity is writing huge swaths of anti-social local legislation that they introduce through the shills they have supported for public office, such as Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

    The “debt ceiling” crisis was artificial, manufactured to gut public spending (and public influence) in the lives of American citizens. As social programs are destroyed, commercial interests will rise to fill their place. ALEC and other groups are trying to suppress voter participation, privatize our schools, and eventually privatize health care and retirement investment. They have the military in their pocket as well as energy resources. What are we mere citizens to do?

    As hard as we may work to counter these huge financial interests, we will never outspend them. Minor successes at stopping corporate control of our nation are eroded by the incessant flood of money determined to destroy every shred of government support for beneficial social programs protecting the non-wealthy. Our income distribution already looks like that of a third-world banana republic. God help us as we gradually slip into irrelevance as a nation.

  • Bear

    Well the political system is working exactly as designed. You may not like the outcome, but this is the system we have evolved over the last 200 years. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    A group of politicians who were elected on a platform to reduce out-of-control, spending, were successful. On the other hand, liberal politicians hung their hats on taxing the rich, vilifying those who have more than them and hanging tight to every entitlement program, vilifying anyone who even hints at reducing.

    Anyone who took the time to educate themselves on the issues, concluded spending was the root cause of the problem and that no amount of revenue increases could right the ship. By staking their position on taxing the rich the liberal politicians demonstrated they have no clue as to the real problem and issues. Thus they can’t be taken seriously. Any politician who has not correctly identified the root cause of an issue and instead proposes a solution that does not address that root cause are not doing their constituents justice.

    As for the economic issues, we are not out of the water. Now is time for both sides to get serious first about reducing unsustainable spending – yes Pollyanna it will be painful, but there is no other way that we survive. Then reform a seriously broken and convoluted tax code.

  • Larry M.

    It says we are in a time of political “fadism” and negative politics are causing increasingly wider swinging political fads, Swing politics has made it nearly impossible to govern in a rational way. One politician wins overwhelmingly because they want expand healthcare and other programs. The next election the electorate decides they want to cut everything. And with low turn out in the non-presidential elections, the midterm elections are being dominated by radical and negative politics.

    Despite the calls for term limits, we actually need to stabilize the process and have longer terms for members of the house to help make longer term planning possible and make the system less vulnerable to monied interests. Right now are government is only a little better than a prostitute for monied interest.

  • Glenn

    We’ve gone from a surplus to this in how much time?? Outragus!!

  • James

    The overloaded train will teeter down the ill prepared tracks for a while longer.

    Are you ready for the imminent derailment?


  • kim

    Perhaps Glenn Beck said it best when he commented this: You cannot spend more than you earn. You cannot run up the largest credit card bill in human history. You want more revenue? Stop chasing income earners overseas by threatening them with higher taxes, stop inflating their energy costs and stop punishing them with never-ending regulations. Mr President, put down your socialist mop! Stop with the Cloward and Piven floor wax.

    And then balance the budget, cut back the spending and reform entitlements.

    We now have almost twice the federal regulations slowing business growth than we did just two years a go. Obama’s economic adviser, former CEO of GE is funny since GE paid NO taxes here last year..they off shore their profits because they can and the USA has the highest corporate tax rates…Even Ford opened their new plant in Mexico, not here because of the restrictive tax laws..if we want more revenue from corporations then we need to lower their tax rate to provide incentive to build new plants here.

    If we want to preserve medicare and help the really needy poor, then we don’t accept the Obama-Reed-Pelosi Health care Bill that removes 500 billion away from medicare.

    As a former business owner, I won’t start a new business with all the regulations and outrageous taxation….I can make better use of my funds with other investments but that means I won’t be hiring, I won’t be able to help build new jobs.

    Everyone should look at the NIH grants that were paid out with stimulus money to see the terrible waste that still goes on …. there is no accountability once agencies get free tax payer dollars for their grant work.( $900,000.00 to study if a man’s [penis determines which partner in gay sex determines who is dominant.) That is 90 hard working families taxes paid in a year to study such crap!!! So, looking at the tons of waste every day, and all we can do is cut 2 days of spending in the first year?? Do the math….and remember that there has never been a socialist country that faired well.

  • John

    Our politicians are bought and paid for by the Banksters, Corporate America, and the Israeli Lobby (AIPAC).

    By creating more and more spending on things like Homeland Security (56.3 billion budget 2011) blowing more than half a billion dollars on roving surveillance vans, TSA is siphoning billions off the country to molest and assault us as we travel, 126 billion that it costs the federal government alone each and every year to support illegal immigration which is undermining the economy and American workers in every state while refusing to secure our borders. Also foreign aid to any country, especially Israel, while we stand on the edge of financial and economic collapse.

    These are but a few small ones, now they are making excuses to keep our troops in Iraq because they say Iran is creating unrest in Iraq. We can’t afford these ridiculous wars.

  • Judy

    This report says it all: most of us are disgusted with the behavior of the minority ranting. They will get their come-upance.

    “Pew came out with a new poll on Monday confirming what we all already knew: The American people think the last several weeks in Washington have been a disgrace. In fact, the words most often volunteered to the pollsters were “ridiculous,” “disgusting,” and “stupid.” The response was negative from 75% of Republicans, 72% of Democrats and 72% of independents. More than twice as many people have a more negative view of President Obama (38%) because of the debate than a more positive view (18%). Three times as many people have a more negative view of Speaker John Boehner (34%) than a more positive view (11%).

  • Steve the Cynic

    The fact that we would elect such clowns to congress says we’re in serious danger of losing our republic. Is this what the founders and every generation since have fought for? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

  • Roul

    The real problem here is that the debt limit only allows more wasteful spending while we have to borrow 43% more_ than what we take in in revenue.

    The other problem is that too few Americans know where the Progressive movement originated from…yup, it came from the American Communist party back in the 30’s..Progressive means PROGRESS toward a more socialist state, the first step toward progressing to a communist government where the gov. choose which business survives under government control and who will be assigned to work what ever jobs the government so says. The latest Progressive idea being presented this week is to control farmers..they want to prohibit farm family help by saying only_ licensed drivers can run farm tractors. That helps the huge corporate farms but hurts the average small family farm….more government control at work again. And we wonder why Obama’s acts have increased regulations 50% in the past few years??? What’s next? Regulate the food at mc Donalds?

  • Jim

    Broken and Uncompromising!

    I am tired of spineless liberals and unyielding conservatives. Imagine never being allowed to change you mind after learning new information or a new situation. I am tired of “the economy is bad, lower taxes, the economy is good lower taxes. How about admitting you were elected to completely disassemble government. Taxes are the cost of civilization. How about reinventing the tax code so everyone has a fixed % based on all income and NO deductions. Stop using the tax code for social engineering. If you hate taxes, don’s call 911, don’t drive on the road, and the poor kids will be robbing your house wile you are at work in stead of being in school learning how to be an employed tax payer. Liberal learn to have some guts and explain how and why caring for the poor is a good thing instead of trying to be elected as republicans painted blue.

  • Roul

    Steve the Cynic is correct in some aspects when he said, “The fact that we would elect such clowns to congress says we’re in serious danger of losing our republic. ”

    We elected a president who had NO experience with being an executive, no experience with creating jobs, and he surrounds himself with similar professor types with no business experience…but at least ONLY Geithner is the last standing appointee for his economic work..the rest have fled back to their cushy university jobs..Hmmm, a leader should appoint useful people with real life experience. Results of this deficit plan was to focus upon raising the country credit card limit while spending away what we don’t have for wasteful favors to supporters. e.g., GM and Chysler bond holders were screwed out of their investments to favor the unions, Obama allowed the trashing of bankruptcy law to reward his supporters…what will happen when Obama and the DFL are removed from the Senate in 2012?

    Paul Krugman is a good example of propaganda for the Left progressives..he says we don’t have to worry about being downgraded for our credit by S&P and moody’s…surprise! another agency has already downgraded our AAA status. Krugman said THEY knew before that the stimulus was made that it wouldn’t work to build jobs and our economy..wow!

  • Rob

    I think that the state government shutdown and the federal debt ceiling debate both herald in a new way to create policy: manufacture a catastrophic crisis by taking the citizenry hostage, and the goal instantly ceases to be “how do we create good, sane, reasonable policy” and becomes “how can we appease the hostage takers, end the crisis, and get the hostages released.” What a breath of fresh air the Tea Party has brought to our political system. And the thing is, it’s a tactic where the Tea Party can always win against liberals, because liberals will always want to end the crisis rather than seeing people harmed.

  • Bear

    Thanks god for omniscient benevolent liberals who keep us from harm …

  • Rachel

    Political ideology, particularly extreme political ideology, trumps what is best for our country.

  • Roul

    The president’s speech at noon today says it all.

    Two years later, his_ policies have done nothing to stop the recession and improve our country.

    he took 200 Billion of the stimulus to loan to Brazil for deep water drilling…does that help us? No.

    He added regulations 50% greater than two years a go and slowed business growth, he stopped oil drilling permits and has NO energy plan except to raise costs to us…. he encouraged ethanol use to raise fuel costs…$3.99 a gallon is good for anyone? Nope. His Reed Progressive deal does NOT lower the deficit. it only creates a bigger credit card for America. The new deal cuts the equivalent of TWO DAYS of spending while he alone has seen that our debt has increased nearly three times in one year?

    Today he says we have to create an Infrastructure plan to put us back to work..well, what was his plan for this building two years a go? Where did that_ money go?

    He says we need to all have skin in the game while his wife has spent, our tax money, to fund her seven vacation trips…over 1.2 million spent in two years says Obama does not care aout the debt. bidden charged the Sec ret service to rent his guest home in order to best protect HIS life…charges the dept for rent??? $2200 a month?

    The debt ceiling is a ruse….it only allows Obama a blank check as before while Americans suffer with 5 million jobs lost in the past 22 months.. Inner city minority has over a 22% unemployment rate. How is that for HOPE and Change ?

    The real crisis is the spending out of control. Don’t tell me we need more money for science research when the NIH allocates millions for China prostitute health study and gay men penis size vs. dominance in sex. Come on…wake up America and see that the tea party values are the only thing left to save our country from this road to Greece and violence in the streets when the entitled recipients find their free money is no longer there and they start to revolt.

    WHERE are the savings in this new plan? There are NONE and Obama won’t give us any specifics..just talking points. The DFL has let us all down and the GOP has given in.

    Tomorrow we will see the USA credit rating fall…watch, it is already happening because we did not reduce the deficit by 4 trillion as advised..

  • David

    Is it just me or do most of these post read like they were written by the same person under different names?

  • Neil C.

    Free speech is alive and well.

    We have strong differences of opinion.

    Compromise can be reached, even if it takes a while.

    Small, focused groups can wield amazing power.

    You can’t please everyone.

    Greed is alive and well.

    No one really knows what it will take to return America to greatness, but most of us think we do.

    When we get way off course, we eventually adjust.

    Writing legislation is like sausage being made.

    Democrats will cave first.

    It is not going to be easy to pay down our national debt.

    And several other things, not all bad.

  • Tom

    It says that we (politicians and many citizens) cannot control their spending. Get ready for serious wailing when we hit rock bottom as a country and realize that we have ran out of other people’s money…

  • JP

    Never give a growling dog a treat; it just reinforces bad behavior.

  • Josh D.


  • Clark

    The far left radical democrats don’t know how to add. They are all lawyers but for some reason made a decision to avoid math classes when they were young.

    We have a huge spending problem in the U.S. There is no political courage to cut spending to the free loaders who all vote for democrats.

    Republicans were correct in avoiding tax increases as they know obama and the democrats are all lying liars and will never ever cut spending unless they are threatened.

    If you confiscated all earned income of those making over $250,000 a year, it would not cover one year of obama’s spending.

    Very hard choices ahead so I hope the free loaders are ready for a shock to their life style.

    Top10% income earners now pay 81% of all federal income taxes. It is not my task in life to take risks and work harder so the lazy free loaders have an easier life. I don’t care!

    I am thrilled the far left radical democrats are on the run and will use my substantial wealth and income I have to support the republicans.

  • Steve the Cynic

    As usual, Raoul, in your 10:41 posting this morning, you missed the point entirely. We will lose our republic when we become incapable of governing ourselves. That appears to be happening. Here’s the evidence:

    1. It is impossible to raise taxes on ourselves, even though smartest and most well-informed citizens, and indeed a solid majority of all voters according to polls, agree that it should happen.

    2. It has become popular to vilify “government,” as if the total absence of government would be anything other than a total disaster.

    Yes, too much government is bad (witness the USSR) and too much taxation is bad as well. But to jump from that fact to the assertion that less government and lower taxes are always better is utter foolishness. We absolutely need good government to prevent us from economically eating each other alive like a school of cuttlefish. The Tea Party radicals want to take us too far in that direction. In their overzealous effort to avoid the fate of the USSR, their agenda will push us in the direction of Somalia and other failed states.

    Quit being a dupe for the Koch brothers, Raoul.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “The far left radical democrats don’t know how to add. They are all lawyers but for some reason made a decision to avoid math classes when they were young.”

    Clark, that assertion is so ridiculous, it’s a wonder you take yourself seriously, not to mention expecting others to do so.

  • Jason

    That sometime in the future, if our country regains its prosperity and stability, we’ll look back on this as a defining point in an era of economic and political malaise. I only hope things get better and that we can someday sigh with relief much like we did over the end of the high interest rates and inflation of the 70’s.

  • Clark

    Steve the Cluless:

    Not take myself seriously but if I had 12 pages I can provide nunerous examples of clueless democrats and the consequences of their legislation.

    I am an executive in the financial services business and I can tell you in the U.S. we have eliminated 500,000 jobs as part of Dodd Frank with another 500,000 to be eliminated in 2011 and 2012.

    Dodd Frank has tried to mitigate all risk so if we can’t make a profit we eliminate the business and fire the staff.

    This is why far left radical democrats never undertstnad the cost vs benefit of their legislation. They do not care about the numbers and its all about the math.

    Likely not a subject you discuss back in the McDonalds fry area. I can discuss example after example of how over regulation has ruined the job market but lefties like you are so cluless, you will never understand.

    My wealth is secure and my future secure so my concern is with the next generation.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “I am an executive in the financial services business…”

    Wow! That explains a lot, Clark. “Financial services” don’t create any more wealth than government does. They just shuffle money around from one pocket into another, usually from the pockets of the less well-off into the pockets of the already well-off. If that’s how you’ve gotten wealthy, then you haven’t actually earned it, have you? If you think I’m wrong about that, prove it. How much value has your work added to the well-being of humanity, and how does that compare to the wealth you have accumulated? Did society get its money’s worth in letting you keep all that, or are you just an economic leach?

    I’ve never been in the production end of a food service establishment (contrary to your ridiculous conjecture), but I do know that at least food service produces something useful that didn’t exist before, unlike “financial services.” Even pro athletes and entertainers do more good for the world than your work does, because at least people get some enjoyment out of what they do. Your whole “industry” (ahem) proved itself worse than useless in 2008 when it crashed due to lack of regulation and took the economy with it. If a million “financial services” workers lost their jobs because of Dodd-Frank, you won’t catch me crying about it. Let them earn their living honestly by doing things that actually help others live better, instead of merely extracting profits from an economy that’s fueled by people doing useful, productive work. The banking system is like oil in a car’s engine. Without it, the engine won’t work, but it’s not what really produces the power, and too much does more harm than good. (Same goes for government, btw.)

  • Clark

    Steve the Clueless

    Contrary to your posts, I can provide facts and figures for my point of view. Your lack of economic knowledge is amazing.

    Won’t waste anymore of my time discussing this as your an idiot as your posts prove time and again.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Naturally, Clark, I wouldn’t expect you to see the truth of what I’m saying. It’s well neigh impossible for a person to be open-minded when the validity of his life’s work is called into question.

    Financial services do have some utility, but if you got wealthy in that business, it’s a good bet that you have taken more out of the economy than you put in. You have been riding the proverbial wagon, benefitting from the labor of real people doing real, productive work. You have been living off the fruits of others’ labor. Why should the honest, hard-working burger-flippers of the world not demand that you contribute more in taxes to compensate for the profit-skimming you’ve gotten rich from?

  • Steve the Cynic

    Oh, and it’s not that I don’t understand economic theory. It’s that I disagree with the ideological view that the free market, left to its own devices, will magically make everything in the world better. The free market is demonstrably good for some things (manufacturing, agriculture, etc.) but demonstrably bad for other things (law enforcement, health care, etc). Those things should not be left to the free market, but should be run as government services or regulated oligopolies. Only superstitiously zealous ideologues on either the left of the right would disagree with that.