The news stories right now seem to be exclusively about the horse-race aspect of the presidential campaign, admittedly the easier thing to focus on, especially with post-debate polling indicating that the race is now a dead heat. Just as important, the polls that comprise the average now differ on which candidate is leading, whereas pre-debate polls might have differed on the size of the margin, but all agreed that President Obama was in the lead.
It’s anybody’s race at this point, but a seemingly small event abroad serves as a reminder of what awaits the next president. Spain is another country that was cavalier about its rising national debt. Now Spain is under supervision by the European Community, and it’s the finance ministers of the EU that are gathering to decide what to do about the ongoing efforts to keep the government in Madrid stable.
The debate is whether the EU should be offering more financial assistance or allow Spain to manage its own affairs. Similar problems exist in Greece, where the government has to deny rumors that Athens is leaving the eurozone.
Our situation in the United States isn’t directly analogous, since we aren’t in a formal alliance of governments like the nations of Europe, but the debt crisis is no less severe.
Do we want to be in a situation one day where the news reports are about what level of federal spending China will tolerate if they intend to keep buying up our debt, something they currently lead the world in?
Or should we just pretend that ensuring no one has to endure the indignity of a $9 co-pay for birth control is really the most important issue in the campaign?
If Obama wants to tax millionaires more, I really don’t care, but it’s absurd to pretend there are enough of them to even make a dent in the national debt. The president undeniably inherited a good chunk of this problem from a Republican Congress (1994-2006) that found the time to stop people from playing poker online, but never the time to keep government spending on control.
Although in fairness, the old GOP Congress did also find time to perfect the art of earmarking and getting increased federal money for one’s own district. I don’t want to shortchange anyone’s accomplishment.
But that the 1994-2006 Republican Congress turned into a train wreck is not an argument for Obama, particularly when he’s been in office for four years. This president’s answer to the debt was a massive stimulus program, like nothing the country had ever seen before.
He’s the equivalent of an NFL coach who takes over a team that went 6-10, promptly goes 4-12 and then tries to talk his way out of it by saying things were bad when he started. And hoping no one notices that he’s moving further away from the goal.
Those of us that oppose the Obama Administration and believe the top priority of this election is ensuring he’s back home in January, have a wide variety of opinion regarding the prospects of a Romney Administration.
But what we do know for sure is this president has pushed the country further into financial insolvency and closer to the day when the United States is in a bind like Spain, its freedom to decide its own course of action, drastically reduced.
That’s reason enough to send Obama home to Chicago and tell him to spend the early part of next year enjoying courtside seats with the Chicago Bulls, rather than doing the serious work of hammering out a debt reduction plan.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com