How I Learned to Stop Worrying…

No, that isn’t true.

I’m still worried, just as much as I ever was, if not more.

What made last week’s default debacle particularly scary was that, unlike August 2011, we now know that President Obama will handle the situation like a petulant child.  Rather than encouraging the people to be calm and face the problems together, he would happily incite nationwide riots because, after all, a good crisis should never go to waste.

I was hoping that the Republicans would be able to do something about Obamacare, the worst public policy decision since Prohibition.  But other than one little nibble (that we would explore the possibility of verifying one’s income before granting a subsidy), Obamacare stands.

And what is this business of ‘raising the debt ceiling until February’?  The debt ceiling is a number.  You raise it by a trillion dollars, or a billion dollars, or 75 cents.  But thus time it’s different: Congress has abdicated its authority under the Constitution and enabled the Treasury to borrow however much it needs for the next four months.

The movement to defund Obamacare was led by the Tea Party Republicans, who believe in a constitutional republic with a limited government.  (How quaint!)  The Republicans in general got hosed, even though most Republicans, from what I can tell, are as much big-government statists as the Democrats.  (Indeed, in last year’s Presidential election, it was hard to tell the difference between Romney and Obama, except that Romney would work to undo Obamacare… maybe.)

In the end, it worked out spectacularly well for the President: no substantial changes to Obamacare, no restrictions on spending, debt ceiling increases by time rather than money, the Tea Party excoriated as lunatics, the Republicans weakened, and the chance to repeat the lesson three months from now if anyone should dare to challenge these issues again.

Maybe it’s time to give up.

Maybe deficits don’t matter after all.  Maybe debt is a badge of honor.  It’s contrary to what I was brought up with, but maybe the world has changed, and what I was brought up with is now wrong.

I can’t imagine how this would work out, other than a totalitarian socialist utopia in which everyone is equally shabby, or else chaos, destruction, and death.  But the problem may be my lack of vision.

It may be time to learn to stop worrying and love the debt.

But I’m not ready to admit that.

One thought on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying…”

  1. The time to embrace the debt was about 30 years ago. Read “The Triumph of Politics” by David Stockman. I’ve never seen how “borrow and spend” was superior to tax and spend.

    Obamacare may well be a disaster. That many states don’t want to set up the exchanges or accept the expansion of Medicaid, for which they will eventually have to kick in 10% of the costs, is something that I find interesting.

    A point that you are missing is that the Budget Control Act of 2011 is still in effect. Come January, sequestration kicks in, and half the cuts come from defense and half from other programs. Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and most welfare programs are protected from those cuts. I’m expecting 22 days of UNPAID furlough and the beginnings of reductions in force. Being under a continuing resolution rather than an actual appropriation has the effect of funding programs at last year’s level and at best postponing the start of new programs.

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