Washington is Broken, and Needs Leadership. Where is President Obama?

From the diaries by Erick

Last week Treasury Secretary Geithner said:  “Our plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit. Our fallback plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit, and our fallback to the fallback plan is for Congress to pass the debt limit.”  Is he in a state of denial?


Based on what I’ve seen in Washington, it is extremely dangerous to assume the debt ceiling will get raised without first passing significant debt and deficit controls.  America just might need a REAL Plan B.  Is the Administration preparing one?

For over 31 years, I’ve been building a manufacturing business in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with hundreds of good, hardworking, taxpaying Americans.  During that entire time, I have watched government steadily grow, increasing its control over our lives, heaping trillions of dollars of regulations on our businesses, fostering a culture of entitlement and dependency, mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren, and driving America toward national bankruptcy.

I’ve been here in Washington for 5 months now, and I am more convinced than ever that our political and budget process is horribly broken.  The Democrat controlled Senate has not passed a budget in over 760 days.  Last week, President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 0-97.  Let me repeat that, ZERO to 97.   The President’s budget that was unveiled as THE solution to our long-term fiscal problems did not receive a single vote in the United States Senate.

This is a stunning indictment of the President’s lack of leadership and seriousness.  I don’t know how many thousands of man-hours that over four inch thick, 2400-page budget document took to create, but it was a total waste of time and resources.  That is a very sad fact. Instead of acknowledging this failure, the Administration and members of the President’s party have been viciously demagoguing the only other budget plans offered, and engaging in a concerted effort to scare the American public and financial markets over the debt ceiling limit.


Instead of scaremongering, the Administration should be trying to calm the markets by taking responsible action to put this nation on a path toward fiscal solvency.  I know Republicans are keenly aware of the urgency of our situation, and we are more than willing to work with the President in good faith to actually fix the problem.  But we need a willing partner.  We need members of the Party of Entitlement (the Democrats), to provide this nation another “Nixon in China” moment.  They need to step up to the plate and acknowledge that the decades-long spending culture in Washington is bankrupting America.  Once acknowledged, they need to work with Republicans to incorporate true spending caps and restraints that will impact this budget and all future spending in Washington.

The coming debate over the debt ceiling represents our best chance to begin setting America back on a path to fiscal responsibility.  It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander.  The more I talk to other Members of Congress, the more I’m convinced that there is a growing reluctance to increase the debt ceiling without capping future spending once and for all.

That is why I wrote a letter to President Obama, cosigned by 22 of my Republican Senate colleagues, asking him to direct members of his administration to develop contingency plans in the event the debt ceiling does not get raised.  It is totally irresponsible not to acknowledge how broken Washington is and the very real possibility that the debt ceiling may not get raised “in time”.  It is also irresponsible to use this issue to scare the American public.


Failure to raise the debt ceiling does not have to create a crisis if we plan ahead.  It would simply mean that we would actually have to start living within our means.  What a concept.  We would have to start operating the government under what I have been calling the “Debt Ceiling Budget”.  President Obama estimates federal revenue will be $2.6 trillion in 2012.  That would be $800 billion more than the $1.8 trillion we spent just 10 years ago under President Clinton’s last budget.

Now I’m not proposing this as our FY 2012 budget…no one is.  But if we had to operate under the constraints of the $2.6 trillion Debt Ceiling Budget for a short period of time, it would not be the end of the world.   $2.6 trillion would easily cover all the interest on our debt ($256 billion), 100% of all Social Security payments ($760 billion), and still leave $1.6 trillion for essential defense, security, health, and safety spending.  Remember, 10 years ago our ENTIRE federal budget was $1.8 trillion.

Now the real solution is to stop the scaremongering and demagoguery and sit down in good faith to acknowledge reality and actually begin to fix our very serious and urgent fiscal problems.  Until that happens, we just might be forced to actually live within our means.  It wouldn’t be easy, but the Debt Ceiling Budget would certainly force us to prioritize spending for the first time in decades.

I don’t know any parents that would willing plunge their family into debt knowing that the burden of paying off the loans would fall on the backs of their children and grandchildren.   How have we gotten to the point in this country where we think it is alright to do it collectively to future generations of Americans?


We ARE damaging our economy today and we ARE committing intergenerational theft.  It is wrong.  It is immoral.  It has to stop.

It’s time for President Obama and Congressional Democrats to show the kind of leadership our nation needs to avert a true debt crisis in future years that threatens our economic and national security.



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