Our Opinion: Postponing ‘catastrophe’ at re-election

Surprised? After months of “sky-is-falling” rhetoric about the possibility of our federal government defaulting on its financial obligations, a compromise has been reached.

The compromise came as a deadline loomed to raise our nation’s debt ceiling. Absent a deal, the U.S. Treasury would be unable to pay its bills, risking default.

The agreement, if approved, is expected to preserve our country’s excellent credit rating, reassure investors worldwide and stabilize recent market tremors.

In achieving a compromise, were our elected leaders — who squabbled and traded accusations for months — concerned about our nation’s health or re-election?

The answer may be gleaned from the deal.

No one — neither President Obama nor Democrats and Republicans in Congress — wanted to be perceived as the intractable obstacle allowing our nation to default.

Not only does the compromise pull us back from the brink of what has been characterized as a “catastrophe,” it permits everyone involved to claim victory.

Obama gained in his objective to extend the Treasury’s borrowing authority beyond the 2012 elections, sparing him from a bruising rematch in advance of his re-election bid.

Democrats succeeded in protecting Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps from automatic cuts.

Republicans prevailed in avoiding tax hikes and in cutting $2.4 trillion from federal spending over the next decade.

Left on the cutting room floor was a balanced budget amendment for the federal government.

As compromises go, this one was necessary and is designed to curb Washington’s appetite to tax and spend.

But our nation’s debt remains in excess of $14 trillion.

The deal fashioned by the president and Congress is yet another example of their shared mantra: Avoid tough decisions that can be put off until after re-election.

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