Spain’s Debt Crisis Reminds Us Of What Awaits

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.

The restrictions on the Spanish government await the United States if the national debt is not addressed.

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



  • abadilla

    “Obama was not able to see the Crisis.” Really? I thought he spent lots of time in his campaign in 08 blaming President Bush for the crisis he apparently did not see but I guess he was not the only blind person in America. Millions believed in “hope” and “change” although he never defined what he meant with such lofty ideals, but boy we know today, and if folks vote for him again, their blindness is even worse than in 2008, because he is trying to move us “forward” to become Spain or Greece.

  • abadilla

    I was reading in the Costa Rican major newspaper, La Nación, about the big demonstrations this last weekend of thousands of Spaniards protesting the austerity measures of the Spanish government. This is precisely what will occur here if we don’t change the course of this nation on time.
    The Spanish media has been dealing with this subject extensively and, of course, ignoring the biggest demonstration yet in Spain, a pro-life march demanding abortion be abolished in the nation that was once a Catholic bastion in Europe.

  • Rich

    So we become Spain when China become Germany and we the Global Market becomes the Eurozone?
    I don’t believe that anyone is advocating to continue holding a major debt, but the debt is not new and it also grew under Bush. Since the Economic Crisis is not a ballgame, than the analogy is fairly worthless. One can make any undocumented analogous comment perhaps the stimulus was the Cocoon but the Bush winds are still blowing the cold weather across the economic plane killing the emerging butterflies of prosperity. Great use of literary form, but not an effective echo of the conceptual reality.
    Of course there was the Old lesson from Spain when it funded Columbus on his economic endeavor. Maybe that is the lesson we should look to, though the lessons are many and diverse. But there is one that lives on, Decisions are made by leaders all the time, and fill the History books with interpretation, myth and record, leaving yesterday behind for today’s reflection, and tomorrow’s dreaming. An interesting corollary is that the story of yesterday’s events change with both time and teller, with greater emphasis on the truth of the perception than on the details of the event.

    • Joe M

      Rich. It seems to me that you are the one who is treating the deficit like a “ball game” since you bring up Bush contributing to it. So what? You seem to be arguing that because Bush contributed to the economy, Obama should be given a pass for doing it also. Bush isn’t up for re-election. So, we are safe from any further Bush debt. However, Obama is up for re-election and we have no reason to believe that he will do anything differently. In fact, to a large extent he has doubled-down on the debt-causing policies from his first term. Only a Republican controlled congress has stopped him from making this issue even worse.

      Obama was elected in part on his own pledge to “cut the debt in half.” Instead, he grew the debt by $5 Trillion. That is a lie (or failure if we are being charitable) that will cause real pain for Americans for years to come. We must do better. Our children deserve it.

      Obama on the debt:

      What he actually did to the debt:

      • Rich

        You seemed to miss the central point of what I was saying.
        However, the negative effects of the Bush administration are still with us. Unlike Mitt Romney’s campaign adviser, the economy can not just shake the etch-a-sketch and start over every election.
        The economy is making substantial but slow progress. Just think how much better it would be if we had not hit down so hard four years ago. If we could remove the Bush years, you might even have as much money as Romney to put into offshore accounts.

        • Joe M

          Rich. Excellent point. The economic problems that occurred during the Bush administration have not been fixed as Obama promised. Obama’s policies did not work by even his own standards!

          The economy is not making progress. Not even slow progress. The 7.8% unemployment rate is already questionable. But, even if we buy it at face value, it’s the same rate that Obama started with! Going from bad to bad is not any kind of progress.

          Furthermore, the Bush years were actually quite good economically. The housing crisis at the end of those years was caused primarily by Democrats manipulation of the lending industry. The Bush administration, early on, called on Congress to adjust course in the lending industry and warned of the consequences if they didn’t. You can fairly argue that Bush should have done more about it. However, Democrats were the protagonists. Pinning the crisis on Bush is like blaming the Colorado Theater shooting on the Colorado police department.

          • Rich

            Thank you, but by my assessment, I always make excellent points. It is good to see you growing in appreciation of my talents. I humbly accept your compliment, knowing that you meant it as a brother is Christ Jesus, who I honor with my gifts.
            The difficulty that I see with your new response here, (Not unlike Mitt, his supporters are changing their tunes now too.) are two fold.
            First, you are trying to assign blame to Obama for not keeping his promises for problems that occurred following the promise being given, but before he had any responsibility for the solution. Probably he should have said that his promise was contingent on the economy not being the worst since the great depression, or that he could only work his miracle if he had cooperation from congress, and not a group that promised to do whatever it took to keep him at one term, even if that meant working against the needed progress for country.
            If you are not willing to see the progress for four years ago, then you are just not looking. But I am not willing to accept your fantasy version of history that creates a world that did not ever exist.
            Frankly, if you want to enjoy your version of history then you can do so. As for me, I will join those who are seeing progress and working hard to enlarge the progress for it to include more.
            But thanks for your change in responding. I do appreciate that you are being more respectful in your disagreement, and willing to deal with the conversation on nicer terms. Thanks!

          • Joe M

            Obama made the promise above after the crisis took place. Even if he didn’t, your defense is basically that Obama didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

            How is my observation that the economy has not improved a fantasy? By what measure has Obama improved the economy since he has been in office?

          • Rich

            No one knew what we were getting into. Obama was not able to see the Crisis before it occurred anymore than anyone else was.

          • Joe M

            lol. Rich. The crisis occurred before Obama was in office.

            What you’re saying is essentially that Obama didn’t realize that his policies would fail to address the crisis. Yes! That’s a reason to not re-elect him. Not a valid excuse.

      • abadilla

        Joe M, “since you bring up Bush contributing to it..” The Dems and the President after four years of economic failure will never admit they have contributed with their policies to make much worse what Bush started. It would take a man of character to tell the American people, “I take full responsibility for the debacle happening under my administration and I can’t fault Bush anymore for the mess.” You and I know that man is an emty suit precisely because he won’t take responsiblity for his actions.

  • FrankW

    Thanks for posting this. The national debt is not only a fiscal issue, but a moral issue. What is so frightening about our national debt is the fact that there just isn’t enough out there to take away in taxes to cover it (There are no trillionaires in our nation, and few billionaires). What’s worse, even the so-called deficit hawks are afraid of being too aggressive in dealing with this. Politicians don’t need to be discussing deficit reduction, but rather deficit elimination. Only then will the numbers on the national debt clock be reduced. Both parties are to blame for this mess, but any politician who suggests that tax increases alone will balance the budget is not dealing with reality. The FY 2007 budget deficit was $162 billion. In just five years, that deficit has increased by 7-10 times each year. Thanks to the Senate, Congress hasn’t passed a budget in more than three years. At some point, either this trend gets reversed, or the value of our currency drops the middle class into poverty. The answer? Political leaders who are willing to freeze and/or cut spending to eliminate the deficit and start paying down the national debt.

    • Joe M

      To me, it was the best moment of the debate when Romney put it so well that the debt is a moral issue. A point that should be common knowledge in this day and age. But, our education system seems to have muddied economics to the point that hearing it clearly put is refreshing.

      • abadilla

        Joe M,
        Well, tomorrow we will be able to see the empty suit against Ryan. I can’t wait to park my behind before the T.V. set and enjoy it! I hope you do too.

  • RagingCatholic

    If $9 copy for birth control is no big deal, why is this website constantly making constantly claiming it is a big deal? Oh, yeah, because you thought it could hurt the Presidient, not because you cared.

    • FrankW

      The big deal is the government forcing Catholic institutions to violate Church teaching. It’s called religious freedom, which was one of the founding principles of our nation. That’s why it’s a big deal. The fact that birth control is already cheap (and free at many public health clinics throughout the country) only further erodes the government’s claim that this mandate is necessary.

    • Karen

      The libs keep beating this dead horse- free contraception- and remain silent on the dismal economy, high gas prices, high food prices, huge home forcloseure rates, devalued dollar, dead ambassador, failed Middle East policies, etc…

  • whartman4

    Great post. The last paragraph is perfect. Send him back to Chicago. Romney/Ryan 2012!



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