'The struggle of this decade'

'The struggle of this decade'

August 10th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

We shouldn't really be shocked that our national credit rating has been downgraded. We were warned, after all, that it could be if we didn't start dealing realistically with our debt.

But even though the federal government long has spent far more money than too-high tax rates have brought in, it seems to astonish many that Standard & Poor's rating of U.S. credit was recently reduced from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history.

Some Democrats in the U.S. Senate are so upset that they evidently plan to investigate S&P -- rather than face the economic irresponsibility that led to the downgrade!

Not everyone has been taken by surprise, though.

"This news shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone and is further evidence that Washington is dysfunctional and our country's battle with spending is the struggle of this decade," U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., correctly noted in a press release.

Corker had proposed a rigorous plan -- the CAP Act -- to get our nation on the right path by capping spending. But ultimately Congress passed a watered-down package of new borrowing and limited spending cuts.

"Unfortunately, the plan passed last week was the best we could get under the current administration and Republican control of only one house of Congress," Corker added, "but it's not nearly enough ... ." He commendably intends to press for larger cuts.

His fellow Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, also declared that our debt load cannot be ignored: "This problem didn't happen overnight and it can't be fixed overnight, but the American people have a right to expect Congress to work across party lines to reduce the federal debt by at least $4 trillion over the next 10 years," Alexander said in a news release.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., was equally troubled by the circumstances that led to the credit rating downgrade: "We must end our addiction to government spending," he stated. "Over the last six months the Republican-led House has worked diligently to rein in government spending and get our country back on the path of fiscal responsibility. However, Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration have hindered all attempts at fiscal responsibility.

"Instead, they have carried on with a mindset of 'tax, borrow, spend'; ... [the] downgrade by S&P makes it clear this is no longer a viable option. ... Spending money we do not have must end now. Period."

So, what are some of the financial conditions that contributed to the reduced credit rating?

  • We now have a national debt of $14.6 trillion.

  • That amounts to nearly $47,000 per citizen.

  • But not all citizens pay taxes, so our debt comes to more than $130,000 per taxpayer.

Are you comfortable with that? Should anybody be?

Corker, Alexander and Fleischmann are among the members of Congress who are seeking to exercise more financial responsibility. But obviously they are not in the majority.

We need a president and majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives who are determined to practice financial common sense and make our country fully worthy once again of the highest possible credit rating.