Obama Jenga Economy

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could run your personal finances like the federal government? Every time you maxed out your credit card you could just increase the limit, shrug your shoulders, and continue spending. It would be great … until the day came when your creditors decided to get serious about the money you owed them.

Congratulations: the federal government is open and the debt pushers have given Americans another hit of their favorite drug:

U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week.

The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday.

The $328 billion increase shattered the previous high of $238 billion set two years ago.

Here’s what my brother said last night:

“I wonder if these people realize that if the interest rate on the national debt goes up even one percent that we are toast.”

Indeed. We are toast. Many Americans blame the tea party for making it hard for the president to raise the debt limit, when the truth is that they’re the only adults in the room. The Jenga tower of debt is wiggling and wobbling and the only people who are seriously trying to figure out a way to stop the coming crash are mocked and ridiculed.

The funny thing is, Barack Obama once sounded exactly like Ted Cruz not too long ago:

“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the bank of China in the name of our children — driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for our first 42 presidents —  (number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome) so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we’re going to have to pay back. $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic. **audience claps** (Barack Obama, July 3, 2008).

Here’s a dirty little secret: whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in office, the debt just keeps going up, up, up. And when you finally have a small group of conservatives who are trying to discuss the severity of the consequences if we don’t get this under control — now — they are called “terrorists” and “hostage takers” and men with “bombs strapped to their chest” by the White House.

Here’s another dirty little secret: Millionaire politicians will survive future economic calamities because … they’re millionaires, and they’re really good at voting themselves money. Take the spending bill that opened government again, for example. Asked about all the money confiscated by taxpayers to benefit individual politicians, Nancy Pelosi’s response was incredibly telling.

“What difference does it make?” Mrs. Pelosi said when she was asked repeatedly about the items, which include a $174,000 payment to the widow of the late multimillionaire Sen. Frank Lautenberg and a $2 billion maximum price increase on a dam project on the Ohio River that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had supported as an earmark in previous years.

When John Edwards wasn’t impregnating the woman who wasn’t his wife years ago, he used to talk about “two Americas.” He was right — but not in the way he imagined. There isn’t one America for rich people and another for poor people, but there is one America for hard-working citizens and another for those who have their hands on the levers of power. Hopefully, the economic pain to come in the years ahead will teach Americans the value of limited government in ways basic math, bloggers and honest reporters have been unable to convey.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

24 comments

  1. I remember back when I was on Facebook, I often tried- and failed- to convince people I knew that they should be concerned about the debt. Instead, they were more focused on gay “marriage,” income “inequality” and other so-called causes that to me paled in comparison to the debt crisis. I imagine many of them were of the same crowd that’s calling the Tea Party “hostage takers” and “terrorists.”

    And it’s amazing (but not surprising) how often Obama has changed his tune on things. First he was against Gitmo, now he’s for it. He was against gay “marriage,” and now he’s “evolved.” He was also against NSA spying and now he’s for it. The list goes on and on.

    1. As we’ve discussed before, it’s hard to argue with basic math, so these guys make it personal. You mention $17 trillion in debt, they make it about you allegedly hating gay people. You talk about inflation, deflation, stagflation … and they want to talk about how you want to push grandma off a cliff. Paul Ryan stepped up to the plate on these issues and offered a plan — knowing he would get criticized — suddenly there was a commercial on television with him literally rolling a woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. That’s the kind of people we’re dealing with. Like I said, they’re not adults.

    2. In fairness, Doug, it’s easier for the parties to head to the extremes and to argue social issues that have little to no bearing on the strength of the country, instead of addressing the 800 lb. gorilla staring at us. Ryan’s plan sounded good, but if you looked into it, made a lot of assumptions that were hopeful at best. I like some of his Medicare ideas, but they tend to address symptoms, not the industry’s disease. He also punts on Social Security, which is major issue, but a radioactive topic for Republicans and Democrats alike. It would be suicide to threaten the senior citizen voter base.

      The three top areas of US budget spending are Social Security, Medicare, and Military spending. Nobody wants to touch any of the three, just shuffle the deck around. Neither party can afford to upset older voters (who typically vote Republican), Medicare (same), and Military (same). That’s why you see them make a fuss about feel good social issues for their base. The Democrats, no less ridiculous, want to offer even more handouts via entitlements without paying for them to encourage the low income voter to vote blue. A sad state of affairs.

      Without putting real money and effort into long term solutions that lay a foundation for rebuilding American strength, such as bolstering education, banking reform, alternative energy (China is making outpacing us, big-time), re-building the middle class by bringing critical manufacturing back to the US, and tackling our paying on credit addiction, things aren’t going to improve any time soon.

      What we need are true statesmen who are willing to work together to solve these issues and present a united front to the citizenry–to take a page from the WWII strategy book where citizens were expected to work together and sacrifice to keep the Republic alive and strong.

    3. Carl, I know Bush and Obama weren’t the best, but have you ever found a side by side comparison of how bad they’ve been?

    1. Don’t buy into the false premise. Hitting the debt ceiling would not have meant the U.S. would default. I’m simplifying it, but think of it like your personal finances. Do you have a credit card? If you have a large expense and you can’t pay it off all at once, you pay in installments. There are certain minimum payments that have to be made, and if you do that you’re fine.

      Here’s an example from my life: I just bought a plane ticket to Chicago, but I also had my wedding anniversary. Also, my graduated repayment plan on my student loans ended, so I got socked by a $200 increase in my monthly payments. Needless to say, I raked up a nice little credit card bill. This month I have been going out to eat less, driving less and I haven’t purchased some winter clothes that I wanted. I’m prioritizing my spending as I gradually pay off my debt. On a much bigger scale, the U.S. government could do the same thing. Yes, it sucks that I have to eat black beans and have to make my own chicken tacos instead of going to my favorite Mexican restaurant, but oh well. Yes, I would have liked to buy those clothes from Banana Republic, but oh well.

      The idea that the world would have ended if we didn’t raise the debt ceiling is just more scare-mongering.

      Regardless, let’s just buy into the false premise. I would argue that acting now is much better than waiting. When you have cancer, you treat it early. We have a serious debt tumor that needs to be extracted — now.

      Here is some further reading: Dick Durbin: If you have a tumor, letting it grow is always an option.

      Think of the federal government or the national debt like a tumor. It grows and it grows and it grows. At some point, even the operation needed to save the life of the afflicted could end up resulting in death. The tumor gets too close or attached to vital organs. Too much blood loss would occur if it was removed by anyone except the most skilled surgeon. The body has grown too weak to survive attempts to excise the cancer.

      That is where the United States finds itself today, and it’s precisely what men like Dick Durbin are counting on. If they can continue to play word games long enough, the tumor will grow. And in this tale Durbin plays a deranged doctor who knows he can keep prescribing the wrong medicine and collecting his patient’s cash because he will be long gone by the time the body goes into cardiac arrest.

      Sen. Durbin has talked to all the actuaries. He has seen all the numbers by the CBO, OMB, etc. He knows the interest on the national debt alone will break us at some point in the not-to-distant future. And yet he continues to misinform the American people.

      America is sick right now, and millions of citizens don’t realize that they’ve hired the political equivalent of Jack Kevorkian to heal the nation.

    2. I think America is starting to wake up to the fact that, no matter what political ideology you follow, a quick look at the voting records clearly demonstrate that being fiscally conservative is not a value ANY of our representatives share.

      Your point about the debt rises whoever is in charge is right on the mark. The harsh reality–that we as a country will have to do some belt tightening–is not a message any party wants to make alone. They fear they will be voted out of office. Until they do come together, you’ll see the debt continue to rise, regardless of which party is has the most seats.

    3. Yes, it would be one thing if the government actually contracted when Republicans are in control, but historically that has not been the case. Woodrow Wilson … FDR … those are two liberal giants who fundamentally changed the way Americans viewed the nature of government and the role it plays in our everyday lives. Reagan was the only one who put a dent in the philosophy, but even that was quickly buffed out once he left office. To borrow a line from a certain Kevin Smith movie, conservatives have been “Chasing Reagan” ever since…

      Reagan is dead. We need to learn from his wisdom and then become leaders in our own right.

      Personally, I think Coolidge doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being a conservative rock star. Yes, I said “conservative rock star”… 😉

    4. “To borrow a line from a certain Kevin Smith movie, conservatives have been “Chasing Reagan”

      Why would you be quoting that has been?

  2. Holy cats man.. From your neighbour to the North, I am very sorry to hear of your financial crisis, as I seem to find them on a personal level each and every day. That’s before we get to our own Federal and Provincial tomfoolery.

    Now while I’m no fan of our PM, Stephen Harper, I’ll give him that at least our debt at the Federal is manageable by comparison. Sure he wants to push the pipeline, perhaps a little too hard, even though he outsourced that to China, thus no Canadians OR Americans will really be getting those fuel reserves from home sources because it’s sourced to China, so we have to pay China for our own oil. (Now you see why among other reasons why Harper as a CONSERVATIVE can be an idiot.)
    And our Provincial Premier (a Liberal) tried to cancel a plant that costed 6x the amount, making Ontario the worst economic hellhole that Canada has to offer. To fix that and get more workers in the workforce? She tried to take money from the disabled and veterans and handicaps to feed the poor and lazy and hanger ons.

    But this level of stupidity seems to just hit you guys on the FEDERAL level and NOBODY notices. I mean ignorance is bliss and all that, but holy cow, that’s your money that is going into the toilet for their schemes (not just the Tea Party, but EVERYONE.) I’m sure Obama is a great guy and is doing decent things, ie. getting the troops out of the war, reducing carbon footprint, and the whole debacle in Syria, but holy shit he’s bailing it in his own backyard. It’s like in baseball, sure you got a home run hitter, but if you don’t have great defence, it’ll come back to bite you in the ass! And all those home runs would be for nothing!

    Hope it turns out well for ya 😀

    1. “reducing carbon footprint”

      Dude…there are not enough words in the English language to describe how angry the words ‘carbon foot print’ make me.

      Also: really now? The Pipeline is being made by the Chinese?

    2. The U.S. Congress jerked Canada around for so long that China stepped in and said: “Care to do business with us?” The Canadians said, “Yep.”

      The world laughs at us. We have so many natural resources at our disposal and we’re one of the only countries that goes out of our way not to unlock that potential.

    3. Thanks for the comments, Matt. I’m not as up on Canadian politics as I should be, but I do know that Canada has made great strides in the last decade or two as it pertains to economic freedom. Americans used to laugh at Canada’s regulations, taxes, etc. We used to laugh at Europe. Well, now Canada gets to laugh at us and we’re well on our way to embracing all of Europe’s worst traits… It’s really sad.

      When enough Americans feel the pain, hopefully they will make the kind of course corrections that will result in long-term prosperity.

  3. Hey Doug, do you know where it’s okay to talk to you about epic Black Panther mini-series that aired on BET a few years ago?

    1. If you go to the Topics drop down menu on the top right hand corner of the screen you’ll find comics. From there just pick an old “comics” post from a year or so ago. You may do the same with other inquires.

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