With a government shutdown averted, national attention now turns to the debt ceiling debate. As discussed in a recent New York Times article, the stakes concerning the debt limit are much higher. The current $14.25 trillion debt ceiling must be raised in order to allow the federal government to continue to finance its operations and refinance the national debt. The Times goes on to state, Â“ultimately it would be unable to pay off maturing debt, putting the United States governmentÂ—the global standard-setter for creditworthinessÂ—into default.Â”
As such, raising the debt ceiling appears to be a necessary evil. Not doing so carries national and international implications. Most directly, the American people would suffer through higher interest rates, greater financial uncertainty, and, most likely, a Â“double-dip recession,Â” as we struggle to continue to crawl forward out of the current one.
Budget Crisis Concerned Billions Â– Debt Ceiling Concerns Trillions
The National Debt Clock - One Year Ago (April 11, 2010)
With an agreement now in place for an additional $38 billion in spending cuts, one must consider how difficult the upcoming debate in Washington will be when in the context of trillions of dollars. The recent elections in November sent a clear message that the American people want the national deficit addressed. Republicans will likely continue to push for additional policy changes affecting government spending in exchange for their support on raising the debt ceiling. It is unclear how the Democrats will proceed in the weeks and months ahead, as this next hurdle approaches.
There is plenty of blame to go around concerning the $14.2 trillion national debt. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed $3.2 trillion to the debt under Republican leadership. Our current Democratic president has added another $4 trillion in new spending after only two years in office. The list goes on and on. Clearly, spending at such unprecedented levels has placed our financial stability and economic future at significant risk. The American people understand how critical these issues have become.
Nice to Have Versus Need to Have
The national debate must rise above party politics, ideology, and the debt ceiling. It needs to be reframed in the values and priorities that are in the countryÂ’s best interest. WeÂ’ve seen the recent financial collapses in Europe and face very real consequences if hard decisions are not made now. Yes, it can happen here.
On a very basic level, our representatives must start to look at government programs as ones that are necessities (need to have) versus expendable (nice to have). The American citizens are making these choices every day. It can and must be done by our elected officials.
The size and scope of the government has simply grown too large to be financially sustainable. As Americans, can we all agree on this?
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