Your Opinion: GOP extremists court disaster
Friday, August 12, 2011
Standard & Poors downgraded U.S. credit from an AAA rating to AA+. Stock markets around the world crashed. The DOW went down 634 points, its sixth largest drop in history. Economists began scaling back projections for U.S. economic growth.
This all happened because of the antics of extremist Republicans like our own Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. These ideological zealots held the U.S. Treasury hostage for months. They did this by blocking attempts to raise the borrowing limit unless their demands were met.
Without an increased borrowing limit by Aug. 2 the Treasury would have been unable to pay the government’s bills. For the first time in history we would default on our obligations. If the aftermath of a ratings downgrade is bad, the consequences of an actual default would have been horrific.
Yet that is what the extremist Republicans were threatening unless they got their way in reducing the budget deficit. They wanted the deficit cut by using only spending cuts with no tax increases, and some of them such as Rep. Hartzler also insisted on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget at all times.
After taking negotiations up to the brink (Aug. 2) a deal was reached involving spending cuts only but no mandatory constitutional amendment. Hartzler voted against it. She was willing to put the U.S. into default with all the tragic consequences that would bring.
Either Hartzler did not care about those consequences or she did not understand them. In either case she was not acting as a responsible member of Congress.
Her insistence on a balanced budget amendment was also shortsighted. The federal government is responsible for protecting us against foreign attack, terrorist attack, natural disasters, catastrophic financial crises such as happened in 2008 and economic disasters such as the Great Depression and the Great Recession that we are facing now.
All of these things are unpredictable and costly. The government must be able to act when needed, and it would be foolish to wrap ourselves in a balanced budget straight jacket. In times of national crisis the government must be able to borrow what is necessary.
Legislators like Hartzler who were willing to push the country into default and who want to handcuff the government so that it cannot act to meet great challenges should not be returned to office.
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