My own Congressman has a heart-warming analogy on his website about why a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget is our most important national priority right now. Yes, he’s one of those who is against raising the debt ceiling, even when his party is offered spending cuts going far beyond their wildest imaginations if only they’ll allow the collection of new revenue from the very richest Americans by allowing ‘temporary’ tax cuts to expire.
His analogy gets you right here, in your Little-House-on-the-Prairiest places: “Every day families in southeastern Pennsylvania make tough decisions in order to live within their means. Many are forced to cancel their family vacations, put off a car repair, or cut out purchases they can no longer afford. When it comes to our countryâ€™s bank account, however, both parties in Washington have not been practicing these same responsible habits.”
But why stop there? Let’s take the analogy a little further, because you know, the cuts that have been proposed by the President and rejected by his Republican opponents go a wee bit beyond cancelling your family vacation or putting off a car repair. What do families do when their incomes are cut dramatically and abruptly, say, when one or both income-earners lose their jobs, Congressman? Let’s finish your story of what happens every day.
Why, sure, first Mr. and Mrs. Smith cut everything that’s a luxury. Vacations, cable, subscriptions, leisure, eating out. They defer maintenance of cars, houses, and their own bodies. Golly! I guess that means that people who were making the things that the family used to buy are going to have a bad story of their own to tell soon! And gee, I hope the story gets better soon, because when you don’t maintain cars, houses and bodies, they break and then they’re really expensive to fix. Or you can’t get to work, you end up homeless, or you end up dead, I guess the story could go that way too!
Oh, dear. This is turning into a bad story indeed. This is a story of how people who were very well-off become people who are poor.
I guess that’s what my Congressman is saying: that if the United States of America is one of those families, it’s time for the United States of America to be poor. No more aircraft carriers, supporting education for the middle-class, encouraging corporate research and innovation, fighting the global war on terror, relieving communities after natural diasters, or providing a safety net for us, no sir! No more making sure that our elderly don’t end their lives in desperate poverty. No more investing in infrastructure or health. You got to tighten your belts and make do.
Now this is a new thing in my lifetime, I grant you: a Congressman who is going to run on the argument that it’s time for America to take its place among the poor and struggling nations of the world. I don’t have to study go to Zimbabwe any more to study Zimbabwe: my Congressman is doing his best to bring it to me. Thanks, Congressman!
Now there are other stories we could tell about the Smiths. Sometimes that family goes and gets several new jobs, none of them as good as what they had before, and brings in enough money that they only have to cut a few things, juggle their budgets. You know, they bring in new revenue. They look for jobs, they try to get back to where they were, because they’d rather be well-off than poor. But my Congressman doesn’t like that story for America!
Sometimes that family takes on more debt in the short-term and works its way out of that debt slowly rather than drastically. all the while looking for new revenue. My Congressman doesn’t like that story either!
Sometimes that family declares personal bankruptcy and keeps most of its property because the courts protect them. Yeah! That’s like not raising the debt ceiling, isn’t it? Or like a company, right, America should be more like corporations, and do a Chapter 11? Oh, dear, you mean that analogy doesn’t work? Nations don’t go out of business?
Well, maybe not until now.
I guess my Congressman also wants to see how that story ends. I don’t know that I’m in the mood for a sad story with a depressing ending at the moment, though.