May 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm
As I wearily got my Washington Post from the stoop early this AM—yes, some of us still read the “broadsheets”—I was bemused to see this crazy article, front page, above the fold.
There are lots of reasons why this is a bad idea:
–selling public assets may be a fine thing to do but it is always a one-time fix that doesn’t deal with the underlying, structural problem of the long-term imbalance between what we take in and what we spend;
–it would rattle markets that are already worried about the economic sanity of our policy makers;
–the best way to crash the price of an asset is to announce a fire sale;
–it’s a desperation move and we are NOT desperate; we have a flexible, strong economy with some of the best human and physical capital in the world; instead of one-time sales, it is well within our economic capacity to structure revenues and spending to meet the nation’s needs in a sustainable manner.
But especially today, as we hit the debt ceiling, this bad idea should be a sobering reminder of just how terribly wrong-headed the debt-ceiling debate has become.
Economically speaking, we live in uncertain times. There’s a fragile recovery underway, but unemployment is still far too high and too many working families can be forgiven if they’re having trouble discerning the difference between recession and recovery.
Adding more uncertainty to the mix, by playing politics with the debt ceiling—using it to extract concessions—is in fundamental opposition to what members of Congress are supposed to do: protect the strength and well-being of the nation.
I understand that some of those playing this game of globally high-stakes chicken are not anxious to support a higher debt ceiling. I mean, some of these folks were recently sent to Washington to cut spending and explaining to their constituents why they voted to add a cool trillion of borrowing headroom won’t be a cakewalk.
But to drag this out unquestionably hurts our economy and our country far more than any political advantage members might gain from holding out. It’s time for elected officials to put the country first.
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