TURES COLUMN: Beyond the debt-ceiling deal, we need a long-term solution

Published 9:30 am Saturday, June 3, 2023

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When I was 12, living in El Paso, Texas, I clearly remember Mexico defaulting on its debts, only a decade after massive oil deposits were discovered in the country. There’s a reason they refer to the 1980s as Latin America’s “Lost Decade.” It’s also why China was cheering so hard for an American default. 

The U.S.A. is coming way too close to being another Mexico from that era, unless we take steps right now to avoid not just this debt ceiling standoff, but future ones as well, that could hurt our personal finances, and our country. Here are three steps that should return us to fiscal sanity.

1) Vote Against The Defaulters

Any time there’s a moderate compromise, you’ll have folks on the extremes complaining about the bill, even voting against it. Never cast another vote for such a politician. Even if they say “but my plan would be better” and it’s one that could only be passed with a party supermajority, then it’s not a serious plan. Vote that person out, for either naivete or toxic partisanship.  If someone voted to raise the debt ceiling under Trump, yet not for Biden, that person is a political opportunist who should lose his or her seat, just as someone voting against the debt ceiling bill under Trump, but voted for the debt ceiling under Biden, should also lose your vote.

And yes, that means never voting for Donald Trump again, who actively campaigned for a default to wreck the economy, admitting he only supported this because he wasn’t president any more. A vote for Trump is a vote to kill the American economy.  Don’t vote for a second Trump recession. More competent G.O.P. candidates are running.  Pick one to face Biden.

2) The 14th Amendment Won’t Save Us

Democrats sought to encourage President Biden to simply invoke the 14th Amendment and say there’s no debt ceiling issue. That won’t cut it. Governments require revenue inputs to pay for their distribution of resources. I wouldn’t even recommend the court challenge. Solutions to serious problems won’t come from declaring there is no problem.

3) Support A Long-Term Plan To Raise Revenue and Cut Spending

To pay off our sky-high debt, we’ll need to raise revenue and cut spending.  That’s not liberalism or conservatism. That’s math. It doesn’t need to resemble the “Shock Therapy” which hurt East Europe after the Cold War, but spread out over a reasonable length of time. It needs to be bipartisan. And those who oppose fiscal sanity solutions should be voted out (see item #1).

Why engage in such a “politically painful” solution?  In addition to moving away from default territory, there are many reasons why deficit reduction is good policy. Cutting the deficit in the early 1990s paved the way for one of our strongest growth decades. The debt ceiling solution of 2011 generated nine years of economic growth, which lasted until our poor response to the pandemic. Government borrowing crowds out private borrowing, which leads to anemic economic growth. That’s something those opposed to debt ceiling deals and bipartisan solutions on fiscal sanity never seem to mention when they campaign, but only seek to take credit for the hard work of others. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. When I worked as a defense contractor, the saying went that the biggest threat to the U.S. military was our national deficit and debt.