The time is now. Please act today.
Our country stands less than two weeks away from the brink of an economic disaster.
For the first time in the more than 230-year history of our republic, we could potentially default on our credit obligations. Indeed, it would be the first time in global history that a country voluntarily chose to default on its credit.
What does this mean?
In the short term, we’d likely see a dramatic stock market crash, akin to the fall of 2008 when the first TARP proposal was rejected. The credit market could freeze again, making it even more difficult to borrow to buy a home or car, or to start or even run a small business.
In the long run, there’s no question that our country would have to borrow money at significantly higher rates, meaning we’d have to find many billions of more dollars of budget cuts and/or tax hikes to balance future budgets.
And this potential fiscal insanity is the result of the disease that is infecting our democracy at its core; in fact, the very reason we launched The Recovering Politician: Hyper-partisanship in American politics.
Indeed, many of the solutions that have been offered to the debt ceiling crisis have been strictly focused to meet partisan ends.
Yesterday, the House Republicans passed a “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan that cuts trillions from the budget; but, in the opinion of many (inlcuding me), strips the nation of much of the safety net that preserves our democracy. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell offered a plan to raise the debt ceiling while providing political cover for fellow Republicans — which is certainly more responsible than the Tea Party/credit default approach — but both sides of the partisan divide have criticized it as too ineffectual: simply kicking the can down the road for a few more years.
But yesterday, there was a glimmer of hope. The “Gang of Six” — three Democratic Senators and 3 GOP Senators — reconstituted after a brief “sabbatical” to offer a bi-partisan proposal that would slash $3.7 trillion from the national debt through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes, many of which were recommended by The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.
I’m confident — particularly as details of the Gang of Six plan begins to be defined more clearly — that everyone will find things in it that they dislike, even despise. But it is the country’s best chance both to emerge from the current debt ceiling crisis, as well as to make enormous reforms of the structural debt problems our nation is facing.
The extremes and special interests wil be placing extraordinary pressure on Congressmen — as they always do — to forego bipartisan compromise. It is essential that they hear from those of us from both parties who understand that it is sometimes necessary to reach across the aisle to have our voices heard. We need to reverse the current political dynamic — so that Members of Congress are afraid of the political impact should they act solely in the interests of their party, to the exclusion of the interests of their nation.
So, the time is now to contact your Congressman — by phone, email, mail, tweet, Facebook, Google Plus, homing pigeon, smoke signal, etc., etc. Let them know that you will have their backs should they make the tough political vote to support a bipartisan compromise such as the Gang of Six’s proposal. Let them know that you want a representative who serves you, not the special interests that dominate Washington.
The link above directs you to the No Labels effort to bring Americans together.
We are not a third party movement.
Instead, we are proud Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — liberals, progressives, centrists, and conservatives — all of whom recognize that sometimes we must put aside our labels to do what’s right for the nation that we love.
We cannot afford to remain divded as a country. As Benjamin Franklin famously said on the eve of revolution, “We will either hang together, or we will most surely hang separately.”
The time is now. Please act today.