Saturday, August 6, 2011

Things I STILL Do Not Understand: The Debt Ceiling 'Deal' (Part II)

"Let me be clear, there are things in life which I simply do not understand. Perhaps I do not understand certain concepts because they defy logic, or perhaps, more likely, other people who understand them less than I do - keep trying to explain them to me 'incorrectly'..."  
-- Mike Kane 08/03/2011

I've been listening to the TV and radio for the past week trying to get a handle on the whole 'Debt Ceiling Deal' thing. After five days of almost constant-exposure to the 'Smartest People' in the room pontificating about the deal, I have still MORE questions than I did yesterday. Some go back to BEFORE the deal, some DURING the deal, and a few AFTER the deal.

Not wanting to over-burden my already-pounding head, let me ask my questions in no particular order - if you have answers to any of the following, please chime in, if these you leave you scratching your head too, well, I'm sorry...

Question 1:  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told us that August 2nd was the 'Absolute Drop-Dead-Default-Date' to getting a deal together to avoid a technical DEFAULT of the Federal Government.  The original first-ever 'Absolute-Drop-Dead-Default-Date' was May 16th, as outlined in my original post:  Raising the Roof, Or 'Lowering the Floor'?  

Luckily for us, the Obama Administration (working diligently with the Treasury, SEIU, and Martha Stewart's Tax Advisor), FOUND '$136 BILLION' between the White House couch cushions resulting in the date being pushed back to early August.   

So I guess what I'm really wondering is this:  Was August 2nd a REAL date, or merely a Marketing Ploy to scare the Bejesus out of old people, the sick, the handicapped, and the un-informed?  I'm thinking that it was a scam, but hey, what do I know?  If YOU know for sure please get back to me so I can let the President know the next time I'm at the White House helping him look for change in the couch.   


Question 2: Moody's and the folks at the S&P told us that the US Government would need to SLASH spending by about $4 TRILLION to keep its AAA Rating. I wasn't GREAT at Math, but isn't 2.4 LESS THAN 4.00 TRILLION? 

UPDATE:  Friday evening Standard & Poor's lowered the Nation's credit rating to AA+  

Ah, nuts, I guess somebody over at the S&P was even better at Math than I was.  They KNEW that the 'promise' of a $2.4 TRILLION reduction in debt over 10 years is LESS than an ACTUAL $4 TRILLION immediate reduction in Government Spending...

And, per the article 'linked' from the 'Update' line above: 
"S&P said that in addition to the downgrade, it is issuing a negative outlook, meaning that there was a chance it will lower the rating further within the next two years.

It said such a downgrade to AA would occur if the agency sees less reductions in spending than Congress and the administration have agreed to make, higher interest rates or new fiscal pressures during this period.

S&P first put the government on notice in April that a downgrade was possible unless Congress and the administration came up with a credible long-term deficit reduction plan and avoided a default on the country's debt." 

You can read the entire article: HERE 


Question 3:  The President, Harry Reid, Timothy Geithner, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Lewis,  and "Babbu-The-Lizard-Boy" each told us that if we did not resolve the Debt Crisis Dilemma by August 2nd that there would be a profoundly negative impact on US and World Financial Markets. 

Let me be the first to say the following: 

"THANK GOD-IN-HEAVEN THEY ACTED
WHEN THEY DID!" 

If they didn't come up with this last-minute-bipartisan-bit-of-horse-pucky, can you IMAGINE what would have happened to US and World markets?

Can you imagine how WORSE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN!?!?!?!?!?!? 

In case you've spend the last several days sleeping under a bridge abutment, let's recap the excellent financial results following the landmark legislation that 'we-just-had-to-have':

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 60.93 points, or 0.54%, to 11444.61. For the week, the blue-chip index finished down 698.63 points, or 5.75%, its biggest weekly point drop since October 2008. It has dropped 9.75% over the last two weeks and is down 1.15% for the year. -- Wall Street Journal Online, August 5, 2011  
  
So, I'm wondering, if Congress didn't have an arbitrary timeline, the President didn't freak out old people, the sick, the dependent, and squishy-minded Americans who believe that ALL GOOD comes from Government, given the legislation more time AND honest negotiation, would Congress have been able to exorcise the 'really bad aspects' of the recently-passed Debt Limit Increase?  Or, would US and World markets have been impacted LESS negatively as they were FOLLOWING passage of the 'Deal'?

Remember, this 'deal' was supposed to SAVE us from 'Gloomy Financial Uncertainty' - right?

But wait - there's MORE!!! 

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index edged 0.69 point, or 0.06%, lower to 1199.38. For the week, it finished down 7.2%, its biggest percentage drop since November 2008. The index is down 10.83% throughout the last two weeks.


The Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 23.98 points, or 0.94%, to 2532.41. The technology-oriented index slumped 8.13% this week and is down 11.42% over the last two weeks.   Source:  Wall Street Journal Online



Question 4:  IF, big 'if', (but better than a big 'butt'!) you are the President of the United States and you KNOW that hard financial times are coming, do you:

a.)  Form a bipartisan committee to recommend how to best weather the impending financial storm?,

b.)  Form a bipartisan committee to recommend how to best weather the impending financial storm and play 70+ rounds of golf in your first two & a half years in office?,

c.)  Form a bipartisan committee to recommend how to best weather the impending financial storm, play 70+ rounds of golf in your first two & a half years in office and THEN disregard the recommendations of the bipartisan "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform" LEADING into the financial mess we find ourselves in today?

or, do you

d.)  Do an exclusive interview with 'Tiger Beat' magazine?

The answer, of course, is...  [DRUMROLL]

is...

No, just kidding. 

But you almost bought it for a moment, didn't you?  I mean, it COULD have happened, right?  Unfortunately, it's not real - it's a gag. 

More unfortunately for the country, the actual answer, of course, is 'C' - which can best be summarized as follows:

a.)  Form a committee to reduce government waste
b.)  Golf 'a lot'
c.)  Ignore the committee's recommendations
d.)  Blame it all on Bush, Japanese Tsunami, Arab Spring, and oil prices


Question 5:  Republicans, in their 'Pledge to America', promised to provide 3 days of review for any Bill in the House prior to its being brought up for a vote.  In violating their own stated promise to the American People, they have shown a lack of commitment to their not just Republicans, but all Americans. 

Let me ask you this, who's more at fault for this - President Obama, Congress, or the Treasury for creating the 'crisis' to begin with, or Speaker of the House Boehner for not sticking to his campaign-based principles? 

My opinion?  Boehner 'screwed the pooch'.  When you negotiate from a position of weakness, you take shortcuts, you make 'easier' decisions.  You get what you deserve. 

We, the People, deserve better.

If you have any answers to the above inquiries, toss them in the Comment section below - I'd like to know what you think..

I fear that many in our Nation have more questions than they have answers.  This holds especially true for the man currently sitting in the White House.  Maybe the President can start asking US what we do when our household is spending more than it takes in?

For this, yes, I believe we have many 'answers' for him.  

If only the man would ask someone other than a Nobel-Prize-Winner for an answer from time to time? 

Actual 'Made-Up-Seconds-Ago' Example:  When President Obama needs to know what time it is -- he asks one of his 'Nobel-Prize-Winners' how to deconstruct and then reconstruct a watch using only 'Green Technology' and the power of his 'Awesomeness'.

For the love of God!  Someone, please, from now on when he asks what time it is, tell him the following:

"It's just after midnight, Mr. President.  Get some sleep now...  You've got 18-holes in the morning."


Speaking of time, it's time for me to chase dreams into the night...

I do well with dreams.  Sometimes the waking is the nightmare.
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