No Transparency on Debt Ceiling Debate


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Those last two numbers reflect another reason for making the talks public. The president and liberals have spoken at great length about taxing “millionaires and billionaires” as part of the budget balancing negotiations. At some point, that euphemism would have to have a hard number attached to it. Is it really about taxing people who earn in excess of a million dollars a year? Or is it closer to the $250,000 that would encompass substantially more Americans, including the small business owners who are the backbone of America’s job-creating engine? As the above poll indicates, 57 percent of Americans aren’t sure.

Public negotiations would also remove one other sadly predictable element from the debate. On Friday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) once again pulled the race card from the political deck. ”I do not understand what I think is the maligning and maliciousness [toward] this president,” said Lee, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Why is he different? And in my community, that is the question that we raise. In the minority community that is question that is being raised. Why is this president being treated so disrespectfully? Why has the debt limit been raised 60 times? Why did the leader of the Senate continually talk about his job is to bring the president down to make sure he is unelected?” She then got to the point with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. “Read between the lines,” she added.

Sheila Jackson Lee has a conveniently short memory. Another president was heavily criticized for raising the debt ceiling. In 2006, a certain senator minced no words in that regard:

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the president’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion[.]

The president was George W. Bush. The senator doing the criticizing was Barack Obama. Sadly, Mr. Obama underestimated the carnage even as he was a huge contributor to it: this president has increased the national debt three times faster than his predecessor. Moreover, in order for the U.S. Treasury to maintain its ability to borrow through the 2012 elections, it will be necessary to raise the debt ceiling to $16.7 trillion. Thus from 2006-2012 the national debt will have nearly doubled.

Imagine such numbers being revealed publicly. Imagine both parties being forced to take their case directly to the American people, absent the spin currently being applied. Even if such a debate could never be realized, imagine how instructive it would be to see who favored such open negotiations and opposed them. Many members of both parties might be involved. But there is one person who can’t possibly be against public debates without revealing the utter hypocrisy of such a position — for the second time. This video is a montage of eight occasions on which president Barack Obama promised that negotiations on the health care bill would be broadcast on C-SPAN “so the public will be part of the conversation and will see the choices that are being made.”

The health care wrangling was the epitome of closed-door, bad faith negotiations, which is one of the reasons among many it remains hugely unpopular with the American public. The debt ceiling negotiations present a grand opportunity for the president and his party to rectify the error of passing a bill first, “so you can find out what’s in it,” after the fact. It would also give Mr. Obama the chance to connect with same public he claims “is not paying close attention to the ins and outs of how a Treasury option goes.”

Perhaps Americans would if they could. Just as importantly, they would no longer have to rely on the media’s “interpretation” of those negotiations. No doubt, if those interpretations are accurate, Americans would be bedazzled by the president’s coolness under fire and his oft-praised oratorical skills. They would also be equally disgusted with the mindless stubbornness (and possible racism) of his Republican counterparts. Or not.

Either way, pubic hearings on the most critical issue facing the nation would be a win-win for the electorate. For a president who once promised Americans he would make his administration the most open and transparent in history, it’s a no-brainer.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.

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  • Supreme_Galooty

    The media is and has been in dereliction of its duty as members of the fourth estate. Their credentials should be revoked. This is NOT a complicated issue. It is a simple issue. Continued over-spending is related to continued debt, but the debt ceiling has no relationship whatsoever to talks of default and missing dole checks.

    Simply lay off 10% of all federal employees across the board with firm assurances that they will never be hired back. Abolish the BLM and sell all of its "managed" land. The opportunities for cutting are myriad. It could be a lot of fun, too. Negotiations are unecessary and are a grand charade in addition to being a waste of time.

    • sad

      The media has no duties whatsoever and are not even required to tell the truth. See the appellate court ruling dealing with Faux news.

  • davarino

    I agree with el supremo. We could do away with at least 10% of federal employees and not even miss them. And the other thing, its funny how the budget always grows no matter the circumstances, good economy, bad economy. I say cut the budget and hold it flat for the forseeable future till real increases are called for.

    • Jim_C

      AND raise taxes on the upper quintiles, right, davarino?

      Y'all know it needs to happen; no one wants to be the one to say it, though.

      • Chezwick_mac

        Wrong. We live under a free enterprise system (or at least we used to). Crippling the investment class with ever-higher taxes will only result in capital flight and a fall-off of economic activity as investors send their money abroad looking for a better return (particularly in a globalized age).

        Lowering the tax-burden for the investor class will a) spur investment and create jobs, generating economic activity and bringing in much-needed revenue to government coffers…b) lower the costs of production, which will make American goods more competitive at home and abroad (higher taxes are passed on as cost increases to consumers, making American goods more expensive and thus reducing their competitiveness).

        It's all economics 101. Funny how liberals – who pride themselves on being so much more sophisticated than their knuckle-dragging, conservative counterparts, understand so little about basic economics.

        • Jim_C

          Have the "job creators"–who have not been adversely affected by the economy–merely been on vacation for the last 10 years? Where have they been? Maybe we should ask them to come back?

          • Chezwick_mac

            No, just the last 5. Until then, they were doing quite nicely.

        • Jim_C

          I love your "ever higher taxes" even as you claim to understand economics.

          So has the upper marginal tax rate trended upward for the last 70 years?

          • Chezwick_mac

            No, but it's about to…if you and Barry have your way.

          • Jim_C

            Then don't say "ever higher taxes" as you did above

            Say "Thank you, President Obama, not for doing what is, after all, inevitable–but for not pretending as if it's not, as me and mine continue to do to the detriment of our country."

          • Chezwick_mac

            No, I'll say:

            "Mr Prez, your determination to raise taxes will strangle economic activity, facilitate the movement of money abroad, will make American goods more expensive and less competitive at home and abroad…and will, in the final analysis, lead to LOWER revenue for government coffers…as you'll be taking a bigger piece of a smaller pie, as opposed to a smaller piece of a bigger pie…if you weren't so obsessed with stoking the flames of class warfare and suffocating the entrepreneurial energies of the investment class."

          • Jim_C

            Tax rates on the upper quintiles are at historic LOWS. So where's the jobs? Obama proposed numerous job and economic stimulus programs–only to have them filibustered into non-passage at an UNPRECEDENTED RATE.
            http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/clotur

            Fact is, Republicans just don't want things to get better (yet), because that'd make Obama look good. It's there in the record. And it won't be hard to show. It's why Obama will be re-elected, even though he HAS had a relatively mediocre tenure.

            When it comes to spending, I will at least grant you a philosophical point. When it comes to tax increases, though–you have NO point. History and facts already extant prove you wrong.

          • Chezwick_mac

            Sorry friend, history is clearly on MY side.

            JFK cut marginal tax rates in 1961….and generated 5 years of 5.2% growth. Reagan cut marginal tax rates in the 80s and began the longest peace-time expansion in the nation's Post-WW2 history. W cut tax rates and facilitated remarkable job growth from 2002 to 2007.

            As for Obama's stimulus, let me remind you it was PASSED, cost taxpayers over $800 billion….and didn't do squat, precisely because it WASN'T an across-the-board tax cut, but was instead a political slush-fund that went to friendly donors (unions and corporations like GE to produce "green energy"). Surely even an apologist like yourself can concede the 'stimulus' has been a spectacular failure.

            As for the current absence of economic expansion even though the Bush tax-cuts have yet to expire, the reason is two-fold: 1) concern among investors regarding Obamacare, offshore drilling restrictions, and other regulatory impositions…and 2) concern over the unprecedented levels of debt the US is accruing due to Obama's reckless spending.

          • Jim_C

            "Didn't do squat?" It likely prevented another great depression, which would have precipitated global economic collapse, which would have been devastating to our national security. I'd say it worked, effectively if not spectacularly.

            Personally, I would have liked to see 100% of it (as opposed to what, 25%?) spent buying goods and services from the private sector. Jobs, jobs, jobs, and development of a viable American export sector.

          • Chezwick_mac

            Wrong again friend. TARP saved the monetary system and prevented another depression. Obama's stimulus hardly caused a ripple. Your inability to distinguish between the telling.

          • Chezwick_mac

            …between the two is telling.

          • coyote3

            And should be lower yet. There is no "guarantee" that these "upper quintiles", as you call them, will create jobs. They have no "obligation" to do so, even if you reduce their onerous tax burdens. However, by raising their taxes, you will guarantee, that they will be reluctant to create jobs. They should keep more of their money, not so that they can be a WPA, but they should keep more of their money, because it is their money.

          • Jim_C

            If there is no obligation to create jobs, what does it matter if taxes are lower or higher, reluctance or no? As Chezwick points out lack of job creation is more a matter of uncertainty than tax policy.

            Anyway, we can argue the philosophy but raising taxes is inevitable, even Reagan had to do it several times. But what you do with those taxes is another story. (I wouldn't mind seeing another WPA–we're still benefitting from their works). If you can use them to fund infrasturcture, buying goods and services from the private sector–or more specifically, from companies that would have to hire American workers to meet the increased demand.

            Should another stimulus come around I don't see anyone turning it down.

          • thetruth

            Is the marginal rate an effective tool to measure taxation in U.S? Does it count for State, and local taxes as well as rises in Payroll, Gas etc.

          • Chezwick_mac

            Certainly, other taxes such as those you mentioned and tax-loopholes certainly factor in. But the marginal rate, capital gains, and the corporate tax rate are the three that Federal policy-makers have the most latitude in applying.

  • StephenD

    I have an idea. Let's look at a system that actually works. I would nominate what the Governor of Puerto Rico has done. Cut spending AND taxes. Cut Government positions and wasteful programs. Now, though many were pissed off (Government workers that lost their "positions") the numbers reflect that what he did IS WORKING. Lowered taxes and decreased spending has sparked an upturn in the economy there. Why couldn't it work on a larger scale with the national economy? I’d say it’s worth a try.

    • Jim_C

      Cutting spending is something democrats have put on the table. WHERE to cut spending seems to be what they're arguing over.

      • thetruth

        Speech and rhetoric doesn't count as putting something on the table. Currently, the proposed cuts are as real as the Democratic budget for the last two years

    • Chezwick_mac

      Problem is Steve…what you are proposing makes too much sense and is eminently logical.

  • Jim_C

    So far, the only people to put anything on the table have been the democrats. What have Republicans sacrificed? Republicans have turned up their noses at everything; what you're seeing now is the realization that they've overplayed their hand, simply to preach to their own choir.

    • mrbean

      Sacrifice? What a crock of babblespeak post. Democrats are communists with a small "c" that think wealth, all of which starts out private actually belongs to the government. Perhaps culling the democrats is the answer.

      • Jim_C

        Here's my favorite "communist" on that point:

        "The remissness of our people in paying taxes is highly blameable, the unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see in some resolutions of town-meetings, a remonstrance against giving Congress a power to take as they call it, the “people’s money” out of their pockets though only to pay the interest and principal of debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the point….All the property that is necessay to a man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species is his natural right, which none can justly deprive him of; but all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the public, who by their laws have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it whenever the welfare of the public shall demand such a disposition".

        ~Benjamin Franklin

    • Chezwick_mac

      Obviously, you haven't heard of the Ryan plan (why am I not surprised?)…a very specific blueprint to cut $4trillion in government spending over the next ten years. Dems used it to successfully scare voters in the NY state special election a couple of months ago. Of course, the Dems have offered no plan of their own for deficit reduction….they just play lip-service with no specifics. Cowardice!

  • Len Powder

    "Either way, pubic hearings on the most critical issue facing the nation would be a win-win for the electorate. For a president who once promised Americans he would make his administration the most open and transparent in history, it’s a no-brainer."

    Don't hold your breath!

  • Chezwick_mac