Should We Invite Congress to Our Town?
National leaders should look locally for an example of how to deal with a true financial crisis.
Are you confused by all the talk (or lack of same) on the need for Congress to increase the country’s debt limit? I am far from a financial expert, but I am having trouble understanding it all just from a common sense standpoint.
To reduce it to simple terms, the United States has a debt limit of $14.3 trillion dollars – that’s right, trillion with a “T." Unless that limit is increased by Aug. 2, President Obama says our country will begin to default on its financial obligations. Most economists and experts agree this will have major implications on global finances, and result in higher interest rates and falling stock markets. Everyone from both major parties seems to agree it would be a bad thing.
But Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on raising the limit. Republicans will only approve it if there is a corresponding plan of spending cuts to reduce the deficit. Democrats have agreed to cut spending, but also want to increase revenues (that means add new taxes) to go with it.
Republicans have accused the President of not being involved enough in the negotiations on this issue. Yet they really are not negotiating. They are telling Democrats this is going to be done their way or not at all. That’s not negotiating – that’s dictating. Democrats are desperately in search of an original idea, and cannot find a way to get their message across that most of the tax increases will be assessed to only the wealthiest in our country. Most economists agree that an economic recovery will only happen with a mixture of cuts and new revenues.
In towns like Norton, we deal with this kind of thing all the time. Unlike Congress, we have a spending limit. We have had to agree on spending cuts over the years. We have also agreed on new revenues, such as adding the meals tax and recently passing a debt exclusion override. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been fun, but when it became necessary, our local officials and decision-makers have worked together and done the right thing.
Maybe we should invite members of Congress to Norton, Mansfield or Easton? We can show them how sometimes politics have to take a back seat to the best interests of the people at large. Maybe they have forgotten how to really communicate with each other in a meaningful way. Perhaps they might learn that allowing your country to fail so you can profit politically isn’t very smart, regardless of your party or politics.
This is not a time for political grandstanding and trying to gain an edge in the next election. Congressional leaders of both parties need to show true leadership and get something done now. If they can’t, we welcome them to our next round of local budget meetings – they can take notes.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a longtime Norton town official. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.