Debt Limit Opportunity: Politicians Versus “We The People”

The pending debt limit issue is being used by our politicians to gain short-term reelection points and party power with little concern for the long-term good of our nation and “we the people,” particularly our younger and future citizens. All the rhetoric to date suggests after the election our politicians will continue to “kick the debt can down the road,” and the debt will continue to rise becoming yet again an election issue for politicians. This serves career politicians well, but not our nation. It is time to change the dynamics so our “leaders” are forced to present the whole truth rather than half-truth sound bites to scare, mislead and seduce us, and to focus on balanced, reasoned solutions rather than “crisis management” solutions.

Let’s look at the facts today. First, the debt is the result of continuing deficits and the debt will increase until we no longer have annual deficits. Both parties have proposed “solutions” that do not bring the present $1,600 billion or any of the government’s projected annual deficits for the next ten-years anywhere close to zero. The Obama/democrat twelve-year proposal is full of smoke and mirrors and at best averages only a $333 billion deficit reduction per year or 20% of the 2011 deficit. The republican proposal is only slightly better at 30% of the 2011 deficit.

Second, the ever-growing national debt, now at fifteen trillion dollars, and unfunded mandates, estimated to be tens of trillions of dollars more, already will require several years of our gross domestic product (GDP), about fifteen trillion dollars per year, just to pay these debts. Federal debts alone are over one hundred thousand dollars per citizen. Add to this our state, local and personal debts, greatly increases this individual debt burden. We cannot continue playing political games or doing nothing. Our nation will collapse under its own debt weight.

Last but not least, jobs and job creation are dependent upon our debt and our policies verses those of foreign countries as well as international markets and labor sources. Our policies must be a balance between taxation, regulation, free enterprise, and other underlying principles that make us unique.

Unfortunately, our political “leaders” seem more interested in their own reelections and gaining party power than solving our problems that they have created. The truth is we voters are being conned again! We are to believe a reduction in the rate of failure is success — it is still failure! Our nation will no longer exist, as we have known it unless major changes are made. We must start by changing our career politician leaders’ focus. They must clearly define and communicate the whole set of problems to citizens, understand and communicate how these problems are intertwined, and stay focused on best solution options for our nation, not their political careers.

Our politicians have taken years to get us into the precarious financial situation we now find ourselves. We must expect it will take years and be painful to unravel the mess. Unfortunately, without considerable pressure to change, career politicians’ priorities will remain their reelection and party power. Their priorities should be to limit the debt to GDP ratio, stop borrowing from foreign sources, establish responsible fair taxes that minimize political manipulation, limit discretionary and mandatory spending to reflect the GDP, and establish all of the above using job creation and maintenance as the underlying measure of success.

Our job is to convince “political leaders” to stop playing political games and to start doing their jobs. Today we hear two sets of arguments, one from each party, aimed at scaring, misleading or seducing us. Obama/democrats’ arguments center around the impacts on our and the world’s economies if the debt is not raised, and use of scare tactics to describe what will happen if the republicans make spending cuts. Republicans’ arguments center around uncontrolled spending that has lead to the deficits and resulting debts, and use of scare tactics to describe the potential collapse of our nation’s principles if the democrats have their way. Neither set of arguments addresses the bigger, intertwined aspects of deficits, debts and jobs.

The pending nation debt limit issue is an opportunity for “we the people” to speak loudly enough for career politicians and the world to hear us. One way to force more focus on deficit elimination, debt reduction, and jobs creation is to use debt ceiling as leverage by limiting it to small increases of no more than $500 billion at a time. This incremental debt limit approach would require multiple votes each year to raise the debt limit and this repetition would greatly increasing the visibility of our problems. The likely outcome of such a limitation would be to:
• Overcome the arguments of both the Obama/democrats and republicans since no “economies” would be ruined and “spending reductions” can be addressed in increments
• Make it more difficult for Congress to continue, “kicking the debt can down the road” until the next election.
• Keep Congress’ focus on developing quality (job development) solutions.
• Work spending, taxing and/or jobs solutions in a non-crisis setting.
• Raise the awareness of citizens such that they understand the whole set of problems rather than just the conflicting political sound bites.
• Demonstrate to investors’ worldwide that solutions are being developed, thereby reducing investor uncertainty and speculation.
• Demonstrate to the World that the U.S. is serious about fixing its problems so fears about defaults are minimized.
What can “we the people” do? Working together we can make real change happen. Knowledge is or weapon and ballots are our bullets. But there is more each of us can do if you share my concerns:
• Obtain factual information such as that presented here and in my book “Save Our System” or by Googling, for example “unfunded liabilities federal government” and other sources, for facts not provided by your politicians’.
• Share factual information with everyone you know and have on your FaceBook, Twitter and other social networks.
• Encourage everyone to start scrutinize what our political “leaders” say and do, then publically challenge them.
• Consider what it would take to start a viral social communications process that starts a national trend for the whole truth from our politicians. A non-violent communications version similar to what has and is happening in the Middle East now could result in the greatest changes our nation has experienced since the Constitution was written.

Let’s act now to replace political rhetoric with the changes we really need if we are to still be a great nation in 2076, our 300th birthday, and beyond.

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Dr. Cleland’s Ph.D. is from Purdue University where he specialized in complex systems theory. His technical training and experiences includes analyses of many types of systems, involvement with numerous federal, state, and local agencies, and management of a broad set of set of professionals, services, and trades people. He has managed scientists, engineers, policemen, firefighters, environment, health, safety and emergency planning experts, building trades and maintenance crafts personnel, and others.

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May 2011
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