The fight is democracyOn Saturday, the downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) sent shockwaves throughout the world, rattling our markets.
By: By Rep. Sean Duffy, Superior Telegram
On Saturday, the downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating from AAA to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) sent shockwaves throughout the world, rattling our markets.
While both parties share the blame in how we got into this massive national debt hole, Standard & Poor’s analysis of the credit downgrade focused mainly on the political gridlock in Washington.
Their report stated the “political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed.”
The blame game began immediately. On the Sunday talk show circuit, White House surrogates were foolishly calling this a “Tea Party downgrade” while talk radio hosts on the right were calling it an “Obamageddon.”
Ironically, this is the same kind of over-the-top rhetoric that S&P decried.
But if political brinksmanship was really the problem, how would S&P rate us if we were all just getting along in
Washington? What if Republicans would simply agree with
Democrats and come over to their way of thinking? Let’s take a look at the past seven months and see.
If we were all getting along, we would have passed a “clean” debt ceiling increase as President Obama originally
requested and spared the country the political wrangling it took to cut $2 trillion in the Budget Control Act.
If we were all just getting along, perhaps the House
wouldn’t have had the courage to pass a budget which would have cut $4.4 trillion. And we wouldn’t have begun the
important discussion of reforming health and retirement
security programs for current retirees and protecting them for future generations. The Senate, on the other hand, continues to be much more collegial than the House, though it hasn’t passed a budget for over 800 days. Apparently it’s more
politically advantageous and a lot less rancorous to ignore your duty and the solvency of important programs upon which our seniors depend.
If we were all getting along, would we have passed Cut, Cap and Balance, a piece of legislation that cuts spending, caps it to a percentage of GDP and forces a debate on a
balanced budget amendment to our Constitution?
If we were all getting along would we even have cut that measly $38 billion out of the Continuing Resolution to fund the government in February?
If we were all getting along, wouldn’t the debate in
Washington still surround how much more we should spend instead of how much more we should cut?
None of these things would have been accomplished
without the fight, unfortunate as that may seem to the casual observer or credit ratings agencies. That’s
because the entrenched Washington interests simply see no reason to stop spending other people’s money.
So the fight is not really the issue, it’s the lackluster
results that each fight produces. That’s where S&P hits the nail on the head, because they know that all this
political fighting hasn’t hardened Washington’s resolve to
finally deal with our massive spending and debt.
During the debt ceiling debate, Americans saw inside the sausage factory, and it wasn’t pretty. Nonetheless, citizens and legislators alike cannot run away from this problem because it’s too hard or too unsavory.
Our economic problems grow infinitely more difficult the longer we wait. Everyone from President Obama, to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, to the business owners and families in my district agree on that point. The question is: When will Washington finally do
something about it?
I ran for Congress because I wanted our children and grandchildren to have the same chance at realizing the
American dream that we did. The freshmen elected to
Congress in 2010 have been fighting for that dream. We haven’t always gotten what we wanted — but we’re changing the conversation and slowly making progress in the right
So the fight before us is clear, and it’s not a war between Democrats and Republicans. It’s a fight to resist the
temptations of choosing business-as-usual in Washington over what is right for the long-term economic health of our
The easy road leads to higher unemployment, broken promises, austerity and recession. But the road that requires responsibility today will lead America back to jobs, economic opportunity, growth and prosperity tomorrow.
Some things are just worth fighting for.
Sean Duffy represents Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District and is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and Joint Economic Committee.