More Doublespeak from the Speaker

According to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the United States does not currently have a debt crisis. However, he warned, one is looming and he thinks that “we do need to do something.” Say what? There is no crisis, but one is coming. What sort of reasoning is this? If a 100-foot tidal wave were about to crash onto the eastern seaboard, would Boehner also say that we don’t have a water crisis, but that one is coming? What nonsense.

Paul Ryan also seems to agree with Boehner. On Face the Nation, Ryan said, “We do not have a debt issue right now, but we see it coming. So let’s get ahead of this crisis.” Umm, yeah, understatement alert. Apparently Boehner and Ryan are both under the political delusion that this country is not currently under a debt crisis because it can write checks to cover its expenses each month. However, Boehner admits that the U.S. government is currently floating many “entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.” That sounds like a crisis to me. Does it not technically become a crisis for elected officials until the system is completely broke? A pending bankruptcy is no less of a crisis than an actual bankruptcy.

This rhetorical nonsense from both Boehner and Ryan reveal the very problem with Washington. Democrats and Republicans alike are loath to admit they have a spending problem. Like the drunk who assures everyone that he can quit drinking anytime he wants, career politicians in Washington are fooling themselves into believing that a crisis is “near,” but that there is still time to avert it so long as the right bills are passed, or the right people are voted into or out of office. For the drunk and the politician, it is all but a pipe dream and reality is for tomorrow, not for today.

Imagine if everyone in America ran their household budgets the same way that Boehner and Ryan run the national one. Oh, wait, they already do. And we have a crisis of consumer debt. Most Americans are technically bankrupt—just like their federal government—but they have deluded themselves into believing that if they can just make their monthly payments they are doing fine. In other words, they are actually surfing the tidal wave of debt, hoping that somehow, someway, they will be able to ride it all the way to the beach. But as any surfer will tell you, riding tidal waves is risky business; the rewards are minimal, but the crash is always painful—sometimes lethal.

This type of crisis ignorance is not helping anyone, and it is driving the United States deeper and deeper into the debt hole of no return. Paying back the current debt bill is not even a reality in the foreseeable future, even if we completely shut down every “entitlement program.” There is no doubt that we will default on most every one of our loans; the only thing saving us right now is that most lending nations are just as bankrupt as we are. They are willing to take monthly interest payments because something is better than nothing. Even a bankrupted United States is a better customer than a rich third world country. For Republican leaders like Boehner and Ryan to make light of the reality of the debt situation, and to make it sound like a “future” problem is the height of arrogance and irresponsibility. The debt issue is most certainly a crisis level problem, regardless what the Speaker of the House says to the contrary.