Senator Mitch McConnell, said Saturday, “The legislative agenda of Barack Obama is over,” an apparent reference to polls that show the 2010 elections were about smaller government. Rasmussen polls, according to Scott Rasmussen, show that “The American people don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. They want to govern themselves.” With Gallup reporting the unemployment rate is at 10.3 percent as of February 10, 2011, it is hard to imagine a more daunting task than making substantial cuts in government spending, while at the same time lowering the unemployment rate.
The Republicans made a campaign pledge to cut spending by $100 billion in this fiscal year. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, David Gregory asked Speaker Boehner whether the proposed Republican cuts in government spending were too much. Speaker John Boehner seemed genuinely surprised. “David, we’re broke,” he replied.
For most Americans,an announcement by the speaker of the House that the USA is broke, would be very big news. Sadly, it happens to millions of Americans every year: they go broke. When a person is broke, they tear up all their credit cards, begin selling available assets to raise extra cash, cut expenses to the bare necessities, and try to find extra ways to bring in more cash to get rid of debt. I have friends who have moved in with their parents to eliminate the cost of rent. When all else fails, they file for bankruptcy. That’s what happens to Americans when they are broke: they hang on to every dollar they can earn.
But, David Gregory seemed unfazed by Speaker Boehner’s answer. Referring to the disparity between the president’s proposed budget and that of the House of Representatives, he asked; “Is there a collision course here?” Speaker Boehner’s response could have been; “David, I just told you we are broke, do you not understand what that means?” Instead he gave a political response. “It’s time to cut spending,” the Speaker replied.
Finally David asked the predictable question, a reference to the government shut down in 1995, “If there is not a compromise on this, would you rule out a government shut down as an appropriate response?” Speaker Boehner responded, “David, our goal here is to reduce spending, our goal is not to shut down the government.”
What we have in Washington is a complete disconnect with the lives of ordinary working Americans. In Washington they speak a different language than the rest of society. Going broke is a cause for alarm as confirmed by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who said “Our rising debt levels (pose) a national security threat.” Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations also said “We’ve reached a point now where there’s an intimate link between our solvency and our national security.”
Anything that poses a threat to our national security should set off alarms through the halls of Congress and throughout the White House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Speaker Boehner and Richard Haass have already answered David Gregory’s question. If the government is shut down, it will be because the national debt is beyond the government’s ability to pay. That’s why it poses a national security threat.
In 2008, “Americans See 18% of Their Wealth Vanish.” In 2010 new home prices reached an all time low. Today, unemployment remains above 9% by any measure. My point is that Americans understand what it means to be broke, and the very mention of the possibility is absolutely terrifying to most people. Americans don’t sit around the kitchen and point blame at who is responsible for shutting down the home because there is no money to pay the rent or mortgage.
They do what they have always done for centuries, they take immediate action to get out of debt as quickly as humanly possible. CNN Money wrote; “As the recovery sputters, many people are working two jobs to make ends meet.”
The voters are ahead of the learning curve when it comes to the dangers of too much debt. The words “we’re broke” may not elevate to the highest priority level within the White House, but for voters who have to live with debt every day, the words, we’re broke, mean cutting expenses now, hanging on to every dollar earned, or otherwise lose everything we own.