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Encourage President Obama to Stop the Debt Ceiling Extortionists

Posted by Karen Traeger on Jan 07 2013
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By:  Bob Lucore

Our nation has a multitude of problems that need to be addressed by our political “leaders” during President Obama’s second term. Instead, it appears that we will be treated to one cliff-like crisis after another. We limped passed the New Year’s “fiscal cliff,” soon we will face the debt ceiling “fiscal cliff,” and then there will be the budget “fiscal cliff….”

Each of these is an artificial crisis. Each is self-imposed by the Congress. The President needs encouragement to put a stop to these artificial crises.

The debt ceiling confrontation is going to be crucial. In voting on it, Congress is voting about whether they will allow the Treasury to pay for bills that Congress has already incurred. The only reason that the ceiling is an issue at all is because there is a group of Republicans in the House who are completely irrational. They are willing to do almost anything to hamper our government’s ability to use public resources to address public problems.

There can be no negotiating under such circumstances. The president finally seems to recognize this. On Saturday, he said in his weekly address, “One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they’ve already racked up.”

There are two ways that the President to side-step the debt ceiling if the Republicans are intransigent: Invoking the 14th Amendment, or minting and depositing two platinum coins worth $1 trillion each. Each sounds odd at first, but they are not crazy ideas. Ezra Kline summarizes these options.

Many liberals are now fretting over whether the President will exhibit the strength to stick by his pledge not to compromise. Instead of fretting, we should encourage him. We should let him know that we will strongly support his resolve not to compromise and we should do everything we can to strengthen his hand as he confronts those who would sabotage our economy.

There are huge problems facing America and the world. These can only be addressed through government action. To solve the global warming crisis, put the unemployed back to work, allow our aging population to receive an adequate retirement, move forward in fixing our health care system, educate our future workforce, fix our crumbling infrastructure and clean up our environment will require an activist government. It will require a bigger government. It will require more government regulation.

The private sector, left to its own devises, will not fix these problems. The government must, but it cannot even get started unless we put a stop to the economic extortionists in our midst.


Bob Lucore, a long-time ADA board member, is the former Director of Research and Policy for the United American Nurses and has worked for the Teamsters and the Department of Economic Research at the AFL-CIO. He taught economics for several years at Centre College and Colorado State University and is currently studying Library and Information Science at San José State University. Bob is a member of UAW Local 1981, the National Writers Union.

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