As the debt ceiling debacle continued in Washington, it didn’t seem like it was about the American people as much as it was about the coming election. Both Democrats, Republicans, and members of the Tea Party, were fighting tooth and nail to protect their priorities. Since they hear how hard it is to find a job from their constituents they were doing everything they could to protect theirs. That meant no compromise, no reform on entitlements, and no new taxes. In the meantime, the economy continued to spiral and American’s felt they were left without a government.
Whenever I go out with friends, politics is the last thing I bring up. No one ever wants to talk about it and strong emotions are always loudest which brings down the mood. But this week was different. After three weeks of absolute absurdity people started to come up to me to vent their frustration. The conversation would usually start with “what the hell is going on?” or “I can’t believe this is happening” and then proceeded for at least an hour (individually) of them complaining about how members of Congress have completely lost their minds. They were so frustrated they needed to vent, and I don’t blame them.
In the same week economists came out with revised numbers for the economy that showed we are basically still in a recession, the posturing got even worse. While government spending was the only thing keeping the economy going, all politicians were arguing about was how much of that spending should be cut. Then, instead of having a serious conversation about how to make sure Social Security will be there for future generations (the people who I was talking to) both sides were blaming the other on how they wanted to ruin it. Instead of coming together and dealing with the issue in a responsible matter, it wound up becoming a contest of who would blink first.
But why anyone in Congress thought this bickering would help them is beyond me. Gallup shows that both President Obama and everyone in Congress’ job approval was already pretty low, but sunk even further these last couple of weeks. It didn’t matter who they were either. Old, young, black, white, male, female, Democrat or Republican, people resoundingly disapproved of the way things were being conducted. Just like George W. Bush united the country against him during his final term, politicians united all American’s against them over the debt ceiling. When the news that Congress finally came to a deal was posted on Google Plus, tons of comments came in, and most people didn’t care as much for the plan as much as they were happy it was over.
While Obama overplayed his hand by asking for a grand bargain, Republicans refused to budge on any of their priorities, and Democrats refused to make any changes that might reduce the deficit or secure government programs. Personally, I wanted more government spending on specific items such as construction which is absolutely needed. We can’t keep letting our bridges fall, and it would have created jobs. One of my friends (who is getting his Masters in economics) told me that job creation is actually the best way to reduce the deficit. With more people earning money, more money would have been put into Social Security to secure the system, and other taxes could have been used to reduce the deficit. It would also be cheaper to do it now while prices are still low.
But really, some of the worst news came out today. Journalists, bloggers, and pundits, were discussing who had won and lost. It plays right into what American’s were complaining about this entire time. Whatever the specifics of the plan are, or how it turns out at the end, nobody won this debate. The way all politicians conducted themselves embarrassed the American people here and abroad. In a time when some American’s are living off food stamps and struggling to afford rent, people in Washington should conduct themselves in a matter that is attributable to the times, and stop wondering why mud is being thrown in their direction.