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If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned last week that our rising national debt “poses a national security threat,” should President Obama or any in his administration be suggesting any economic plan that increases it in any way?
At last week’s Council on Foreign Relations, or CFR, meeting, Secretary of State Clinton was supposed to be espousing “a new American moment” and boosting U.S. global leadership around the world, but she ended up dropping the country further in the tank (the debt tank that is), during an off-script Q&A time after her 45-minute speech.
In response to a question from the president of the CFR, Richard Haass, on the impact of a monstrous and crippling national debt, Clinton veered from the Obama administration’s typical economic path. She juxtaposed herself against its plan that massively increases our debt and deficit and sounded the fiscal alarm, “We are losing the ability to charter our own destiny.” (I can’t often say I agree with Hillary, but on this point we’re in complete harmony – that is why one of eight problems and chapters I address in the expanded paperback version of my New York Times best-seller, “Black Belt Patriotism,” is “Stop America’s nightmare of debt.”)
Here’s the actual exchange:
Haass: [Y]ou called for strategic patience in Afghanistan and so forth. Yet the United States is soon approaching a point where the scale or size of our debt will exceed our GDP – a question of when more than if. Where does national security contribute to the solution to running deficits of $1-and-a-half trillion a year, or do we continue to carry out a foreign and defense policy as if we were not seriously resource-constrained?
Clinton: Well, Richard, first, you know, as I said, I think that our rising debt levels pose a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally. I mean, it is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny but to, you know, have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
So I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a question of how we – how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit. I mean, you know, it is – we don’t need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are, but it is fair to say that, you know, we fought two wars without paying for them, and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either. And that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility.
That’s too bad. Hillary was doing so well owning up to the administration’s role with the national debt, but then she got caught up in that blame-Bush merry-go-round again that is so contagious in this administration. At this point, two years into Obama’s presidency, isn’t that a lot like the pot calling the kettle black?
OK, it’s time for this Obama administration once and for all to stop and get off that economic-fault bandwagon. You can do that through the presidential campaign, but when the present White House has plummeted the U.S. into more debt than the cumulative totals of all administrations from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, it’s time to put up or shut up. Let me explain.
From the time President Bush took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2001, to the time Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, public debt via the government grew $3 trillion – from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion.
According to the Bureau of Public Debt, as of Aug. 20, 2010, after just the 19 months of President Obama’s four-year term, the public debt has grown to $8.8333 trillion, an increase of $2.5260 trillion. Extrapolate Obama’s debt and deficit numbers over a prospective eight years and Bush looks like a coupon shopper!
According to the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, analysis released Sept. 7, by the end of the current fiscal 2010 year, which ends with the closure of this month, there will be another deficit of at least $1.3 trillion – what the CBO labeled “the second-largest shortfall in the past 65 years,” second to last year’s deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP. (I’d love to tell you it gets better, but the CBO’s president’s budgetary proposals for fiscal year 2011 projects an additional $6.2 trillion in deficits over the next decade.)
The fact is, as CNS News reported, “In the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.”
It’s too bad that President Obama and his administration never learned the lesson explained by J. Paul Getty: “A man may fail many times, but he really isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”
The fact is, they are blaming Bush for the very policies that they themselves are following – more borrowing, more deficits, more debts. In fact, Obama should listen very closely to Obama! For months and months, he has repeatedly warned others and himself of this economic mantra: “I welcome this debate but come on, we are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin. Don’t come to table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped create this crisis.”
But, Mr. President, that’s exactly what you and the Congress are doing: repeating the same financial mistakes – the same government debt solutions. It’s not time to reverse the money merry-go-round. It’s time to get off of it and go down a new road!
As Secretary of State Clinton herself again advised in that CFR exchange:
Clinton: So the challenge is how we get out of [the debt] by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions. I mean, there’s a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions.
And I know there’s an election going on, and I know that I am by law out of politics, but I will say that this is not just a decision for the Congress, it’s a decision for the country. And it’s not a Republican or a Democratic decision. And there are a lot of people who know more about what needs to be done and who frankly have a responsible view, whose voices are not being heard right now. And I think that is a great disservice to our nation. Whether one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative, a progressive, whatever you call yourself, there is no free lunch, and we cannot pretend that there is without doing grave harm to our country and our future generations.
So when you – you specifically say: Well, what about, you know, diplomacy, development and defense? You know, we will have to take our share of the burden of meeting the fiscal targets that can drag us out of this deep hole we’re in, but we’ve got to be smart about it.
I’m not a financial expert, but I am a business man. I’ve learned by my successes and my failures for decades. But since President Obama and his minions don’t seem to understand a lick about business or economics, I’m going to use a few articles to school them in the basics.
So listen up Washington – the rest of the nation has gone back to school, so it’s your turn. Class is in session, and here’s the only lesson I want you to focus upon and practice this week. I’ll call I step No. 1 in “Economics 101 for (government) dummies.”
Step No. 1: Stop the blame game. Stop creating diversions to mea culpa. And own up to your own financial failures.
Mr. President, we all know you’ll never find a proper prescription for our economy until you receive a proper diagnosis. And you’re the problem now. Quit blaming President Bush and any other administration since America’s inception. It’s time to look in your own backyard and pony up to the fact that you are carrying out the worst economic recovery plan ever. Your plan isn’t working. It’s burying America in debt and its economic woes. If you don’t accept your responsibility in aiding America’s demise, you will serve as a catalyst of America’s financial ruin and, in the sentiment of Secretary of State Clinton, the very inciter who aided and abetted America’s greatest national security threat.
If you humble yourself and learn Step No. 1, in next article I’ll teach you Step No. 2 in “Economics 101 for (government) dummies” about spending wisely (or should I say, stopping your spending). I know it sounds so practical, but, as mama used to say, “the greatest truths are the simplest, and so are the greatest men.”
For your homework this week, read “Aftershock,” by David Wiedemer, Robert A Wiedemer and Cindy Spitzer, especially the section on “Say goodbye to the age of excess.” I know you already know it all, but just pretend for a little while that you don’t and read it.
I’ll ask it once more before I let you out of class: If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned last week that our rising national debt “poses a national security threat,” should you (President Obama) or any in your administration be suggesting any economic plan that increases it in any way?
Class dismissed. See you next week.