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The debt ceiling farce: straining at gnats, accomplishing not much of anything


It was the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers rolled into one, with a heaping helping of P.T. Barnum, Elmer Gantry, and Bernie Madoff.

All that was needed to make the months-long charade of raising the national debt limit complete was a pie in the face of every member of Congress from Soupy Sales. Kersplat!!

You’d think the 500-plus members of Congress, who supposedly are among the sharpest tacks in the country’s toolbox when it comes to business acumen and legal expertise (with a higher percentage of millionaires than probably any group its size), could’ve worked it out months ago.

After all, while they were blathering, posturing, pontificating and accomplishing basically nothing, groups of college students, given the challenge as an academic exercise, developed logical, workable plans for getting the country’s fiscal house in order.

Ah, but the difference: the university students weren’t playing politics; they were looking at it as a problem that needed solving as effectively as possible.

Meantime, as the honorables on Capitol Hill were playing one-upmanship games and coming off like Larry, Curly, and Moe, the economy was going to hell in a handbasket, the stock market was tanking, GDP was in stasis, jobless numbers continued in double digits, and the work they should’ve been doing to try and resolve these problems was ignored.

When a down-to-the-wire deal was finally cobbled together to raise the debt limit (and who didn’t foresee that scenario?), it was as if all the inter-party rancor, vituperation, and name-calling had magically been washed away and there blossomed a mutual admiration society of praise for the “bipartisanship” and “working together” that made it all possible.

Horse apples! If that was bipartisanship, Saddam was a Boy Scout troop leader,

Aside from avoiding default, little has been accomplished toward devising concrete ways to deal with the nation’s debt crisis. Now, we’re to get a 12-member “debt super committee” charged with developing ideas for where to cut and how much.

Uhhhh, wasn’t that what the “Gang of Six” spent many weeks doing? Now we’re going to reinvent that wheel, with more wrangling, name-calling, posturing, and partisan gridlock? Heaven help us all.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss succinctly summed it up in a CBS News interview: “I think it’s going to be very difficult for this select committee to come up with any meaningful resolution.” Talk about understatement…

Once the “super committee” is chosen (what a three-ring circus that’s likely to be), they have until Thanksgiving to come up with a plan for $1.2 trillion in savings. Lotsa luck with that!

Meantime, a Pew/Washington Post poll of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents should give the Inside the Beltway contingent a reality check: a whopping 72 percent of respondents expressed a negative view of Congress and the administration’s handling of the debt ceiling crisis. “Ridiculous,” “disgusting,” “frustrating,” “stupid,” “childish,” “a joke” were terms most often used.

And those were just the kinder ones…

TAGS: Legislative
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