Balanced-budget condition is key to solving debt crisis

Despite Gregg’s cries for leadership, his own leadership is lacking, seen by his failure to propose clear pre-conditions to raising the debt ceiling. One can only infer from this that his call for immediate action means nothing more than proposing spending cuts, which can of course be subsequently reversed.

This is not a serious solution to a very real problem. At best, it amounts to only one year of real action. Future Congresses can and almost surely will undo any long-term cuts. 

What America needs is transformative reform that accounts for the inability of lawmakers’ to act like adults, and forces them to do so. Namely, the federal government needs a balanced-budget amendment. Gregg engages in the classic logical fallacy of the “straw man argument” when he dismisses the growing support for a balanced-budget amendment with teeth. He talks about how many years it takes to ratify a constitutional amendment, and suggests therefore that the connection between a BBA and the debt ceiling naively overlooks that timeline. He completely ignores what is actually being proposed: that congressional passage of the BBA, not ratification, be one of the preconditions, along with a statutory cap on spending that would apply until the amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states. And even with such a statutory cap, we still need immediate, significant, spending cuts.

This cut, cap, balance approach is the only reasonable and necessary set of pre-conditions to raising our nation’s debt limit proposed to date that will put us on a serious path to restoring fiscal sanity.

Washington, D.C.

Obama 2012 moving in the wrong direction

From Wes Pedersen, U.S. Foreign Service, retired

The 2012-model multi-cylinder Obama scares me.

The old one had its faults: no zip, no traction on desert sand, a tendency to slip into reverse in heavy traffic, a hyper sound system repeating the same limp song, “Recovery: It’s only a day away,” and a dashboard-mounted navigation system unable to locate the Capitol only blocks away.

The Obama 2012 is a frighteningly slapdash creation retaining the current model’s flaws but designed specifically by White House tinkerers to shift automatically into reverse on domestic debate and balk indecisively when taken abroad for presidential visits. Like the current model, it cannot maintain momentum despite an insatiable demand for admiration and constant polishing of the brand by a 24/7 White House PR crew. And, like the 2011 model, it comes to a screeching halt when any of these key words is voiced: jobs, economic recovery, or housing.

This clearly is not a vehicle that can bring Obama across the victory line in the presidential election. His only hope for victory lies in the fact that his competitors at the moment are pretty much clunkers, likely dead on the fast track.

All any of them needs to win, though, is to cite the president’s record of losses on domestic and foreign issues.

The Obama victory chant, “I got Osama bin Laden,” worked for a few heroic days. It sputtered out when the latest figures showed a rise in unemployment to 9.1 percent despite the 7 percent low promised by Obama at the time of the 2009 elections.

Next, the House of Representatives waved Obama off-track with a stunning bipartisan rebuke for failing to make the case for war in Libya and failing to seek congressional approval for military action there. Reports of new deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq came as Obama’s team was telling Americans we really need to hang in there, and in Afghanistan for a while longer. All this with Afghanistan and Pakistan cozying up to China.

Meanwhile, analysts are waving new danger flags as inflation shrinks personal and corporate pocketbooks, 10-year interest rates drop to less than 3 percent, and debate on the federal debt goes nowhere in the face of a possible government shutdown.

The Republicans are complicit in all this, stalling to cast the president in the worst possible light. He is doing his damnedest to accommodate them on that score.  

That leaves us with a government that cannot get itself into gear. We are, in short, on a fast track to disaster. 

Chevy Chase, Md.

Losing respect for media coverage

From Pat Anderson

I desperately need to make a comment about media coverage as is done today. I am an average American citizen and can tell you that I feel the media is shoving it’s own fascinations down my throat. For example, the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith, Charlie Sheen and even Sarah Palin were and are so overdone for me and for every single person I know that the only rationale for it is that the media has lost touch with a huge majority of the American people. It has completely turned within itself and cannot see the forest for the trees. Most people I know just mute the TV or click off those types of stories on the Internet when this repetitive crap comes on. Why can’t the press just ignore those people who manipulate the hell out of you? Your profession is beginning to look dumber and dumber and is listened to less and less.