A few weeks ago I met up with some old friends in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown for some sushi. During the course of conversation the national debt came up. I mentioned that the official Twitter “debt clock” was frozen at just under $17 trillion for what seemed like a long time. Too long of a time. My friend asked how that was possible and I said that I had no idea other than that the feds were probably playing some strange accounting games that would land the average American citizen in prison.
It turns out that Terrence Jeffery of CNS News has been wondering the exact same thing:
According to the Daily Treasury Statement for July 26, which the Treasury released this afternoon, the federal debt has been stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 70 straight days.
That is approximately $25 million below the legal limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60 that Congress has imposed on the debt.
The portion of the federal debt subject to the legal limit set by Congress first hit $16,699,396,000,000.00 at the close of business on May 17. At the close of every business day since then, it has also been $16,699,396,000,000.00, according to the official accounting published by the Treasury Department.
If the debt had increased by even $30 million at any time during those 70 days, it would have exceeded the statutory limit. But, according to the Treasury, the debt did not do that. Instead, it remained precisely $16,699,396,000,000.00.
Even though the government’s official accounting of the debt has not budged for 70 days, the Treasury has continued to sell bills, notes and bonds at a value that exceeds the value of the bills, notes and bonds it was redeeming.
Ask yourself: Does this pass the sniff test? Of course not.
On May 17, the day the debt began its long stay at $16,699,396,000,000.00, Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lew said the Treasury would begin implementing what he called “the standard set of extraordinary measures” that allows the Treasury to continue to borrow and spend money even after it has hit the legal debt limit.
This is exactly what I have talked about for years on this blog. The U.S. economy is resting over a giant sinkhole of debt that continues to grow, and at some point it’s going to suck a whole lot of people into darkness and despair. The American people who spend their nights looking and laughing at pictures of Anthony Weiner’s blurred weiner on “The Dirty” will soon come face to face with a fiscal reality that is far scarier than a pervert from New York. Politicians in both parties will have blood on their hands, but ultimately it is we the people who are to blame.
We elect buffoons into office. We allow the media to distract us with circus-side shows. We have become so invested in “red” vs. “blue” that slick politicians have been able to exploit blind partisanship for personal gain.
The real question is: Who stands for freedom and who sets the stage for tyranny?
Does President Obama stand for liberty? Does John Boehner stand for liberty? If you answer “yes” or “no” like a Pavlovian dog the moment your brain registers each man’s party affiliation, then congratulations — you are a dutiful little red or blue foot solider. Unfortunately, recessions and depressions don’t care whether you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name.
The truth is that almost no one in Washington is telling the truth. We went over the real “fiscal cliff” some time ago. The exact date is uncertain, but right now Uncle Sam is an unconscious man in free fall after being thrown out an airplane. Will America wake up in time to pull the parachute, or are we too close to the pavement already? It’s a good question.
By this time, most people are familiar with the saying: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” It’s true. The problem is, at one point in time our little economic Mustang had plenty of roadway to ease on the brakes, change direction and ride off into the sunset. Now, the wall is before us and we’re still careening towards it, ever closer, at 100 m.p.h. — and instead of pumping the brakes and telling you to make sure your seat belt is on, President Obama and John Boehner are asking you look out the window and enjoy the scenery.
I have my seat belt on. I’m a weird guy and decided to wear a crash helmet because I never cared what other people thought of me. What about you?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the metaphor store. I used quite a few of them in this post and I need to restock the shelves.