I love the study of history. That’s fortunate since I took so many college history courses, earned degrees in history, and teach college history courses. What I love though is discovering that regardless of what is taking place today it is possible because someone either did or failed to do something in the past. Something happened or did not happen and that minutia did in some fashion influence subsequent events whether we accept it or not. It’s amazing to think about what my parents, grandparents, and those before thought about, dealt with, questioned, and tried to answer when they were my age. It can be a humbling experience.
My own work in political history is less about the individuals in government and those seeking elected office but more about the impact elections and legislation had on people like my great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents. What one feels and remembers at the time often changes when that present becomes the past and one can reflect upon both the individual trees and how those trees are a part of that portion of the woods or forest.
As we all know, it is often easy, too easy in some cases, to rewrite the past. That task seems only difficult when we carry a deep scar from that past. It is not as easy to rewrite a personal tragedy or sadness. That may have occurred in our history, but it remains in our present and may influence our future. How, though, is often yet to be determined.
We have written here about the debt limit or debt ceiling if one prefers that term. Our friend over at EconprofAJ had this piece. As we know, the issue on raising that amount is already being debated and will become a focal point next month as the country once again moves, actually flies at supersonic speed, to that previously set amount.
The topic is already a subject of debate on a particular “conservative” “news” website. The moderators of the website usually refer to the President as “Dear Leader” with comparisons to Adolf Hitler and NAZIs. The moderators and the cache of loyal followers who comment also refer to Obama as a communist which to them is not a far stretch from NAZI since the acronym refers to “socialism.” If I could draw people, I would make an illustration of how a man who is chastised for being on opposite extremes of the political spectrum at the same time might appear. He would be stuck in the middle.
One moderator has, to his or her credit, posted a portion of then Senator Obama’s remarks from 2006 concerning the debt limit which is an accurate quote. I wanted to pose a question to the moderator concerning the quote, but my IP has been banned from commenting because I once posted “Dear Sir or Madame, as you may know your quotation is actually from an earlier rough draft and not the correspondence ultimately approved and delivered. Both documents along with other drafts are available at the National Archives and can be accessed at the following link.” That single comment was “flaming” and “spam” which is not allowed according to the email I received. Too bad that ban occurred before the Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty Quackaroo as one of my friends termed it. At that time limiting one’s expressions was bad. Or was it good if it contradicted your view? I guess in today’s “conservatism” it changes depending upon when and who.
Senator Obama did speak on the Floor on 16 March 2006.
Here is the portion this site and others have quoted:
“Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.”
They stop at that particular place and point to the hypocrisy of Obama.
Let’s, however, continue with Senator Obama’s remarks.
“It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.”
My opinion is that statement was true in 2006 and still true today.
Later Senator Obama remarked:
“If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies. But we are not doing that. Despite repeated efforts by Senators CONRAD and FEINGOLD, the Senate continues to reject a return to the commonsense Pay-go rules that used to apply. Previously, Pay-go rules applied both to increases in mandatory spending and to tax cuts. The Senate had to abide by the commonsense budgeting principle of balancing expenses and revenues. Unfortunately, the principle was abandoned, and now the demands of budget discipline apply only to spending. As a result, tax breaks have not been paid for by reductions in Federal spending, and thus the only way to pay for them has been to increase our deficit to historically high levels and borrow more and more money. Now we have to pay for those tax breaks plus the cost of borrowing for them.”
This post is not intended to argue for or against Pay-go or the proposals of Senators Feingold and Conrad. This post is not intended to judge what we call the Bush era tax breaks. It is to emphasize this principle of “balancing expenses and revenues.”
“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘‘the buck stops here.’’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
You may disagree, but I like that conclusion. Not all debt is bad. Sometimes we do spend to invest in our future, and that spending pays dividends. Still, I think most of us will agree that some things are worth borrowing for while others are not. The debate will naturally rest in our having different opinions. Even with different opinions as to what is worth the cost and what is not, most I think would agree that too much of anything is typically bad. Here, too much debt is bad, and even though I am tempted and would enjoy it, I know that eating the entire fresh baked hot apple pie cooling on top of our stove right now would be bad in the long run.
Senator Obama’s vote was a political vote. It was the wrong vote in my opinion given what most agree will happen if the debt ceiling is not raised and the United States does not even pay a portion of what it owes.
While the vote was wrong and based on partisan party politics, the reasoning was and is correct.
Leadership does not just apply to the person in the White House. It also applies to the 535 men and women elected to represent “We the People.” The President suggests, but Congress actually decides the where and the who that receives the money. “We the People” are also to blame because we elected these individuals to represent us, and we seem more obsessed with finding scapegoats and allowing the partisan bickering to take precedence over addressing the actual issues.
Argue Obamacare, costs from the Bush wars, and whatever you want, but look at the decisions made by all. It’s really a sad state when those championed as budget hawks and constitutionalists have no issues about government assistance going to them and argue the problem is elsewhere. It’s really a sad state when others want to give assistance solely for photo ops and the potential for votes. We all want cuts, but we don’t want what we have or receive cut.
Buzz words such as redistribution fail to take into account that one cannot have redistribution without having had a previous distribution. Buzz themes like taking from the rich or taking from the working to give to the poor or the non working do not recognize that possibly someone took advantage of some loopholes not available to others.
More importantly, in spite of all the hype, where are all of these confiscation actions or even proposals? Yes it could happen, but it also could have happened before. If it does happen, it will not be the result of a single individual or political faction. It will happen because “We the People” are searching for scapegoats in the cloud of smoke which has been created by the friction and bickering which started the fire.
How does one rewrite history? Sometimes one just allows it repeat.
Following Senator Obama in addressing the Senate was Senator Charles Grassley. He remarked:
“Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of final passage. Raising the debt limit is necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government. We cannot as a Congress pass spending bills and tax bills and then refuse to pay our bills. Refusing to raise the debt limit is like refusing to pay your credit card bill—after you’ve used your credit card. The time to control the deficits and debt is when we are voting on the spending bills and the tax bills that create it. Raising the debt limit is about meeting the obligations we have already incurred. We must meet our obligations. Vote for this bill.”
Senator Grassley in my opinion, those words you spoke on 16 March 2006 are more powerful than those said by Senator Obama.
Your rational is concise and oh so true. I agreed with your vote. Why, however, is your voice different today? Why haven’t any of the Congresses since 2006 had sincere debates on the spending and tax bills that are a part of deficits and debts?
Will blaming anyone do a thing to address the issues? Maybe that “conservative” “news” website which does not allow contradictory opinions to be posted is correct. The Democrats and the RINOs are to blame.
Some percentage of truth rests in that. Since we know that why are the Tea Party darlings of the hour focusing all attention on blame and not spending the time and effort revising the tax code, addressing immigration, addressing a better and more efficient health care system, helping the free markets work, repairing our infrastructure, and limiting debt and reducing the deficit?
Oops forgot, it’s the fault of the RINOs, the Democrats, and the President. Patriotic Americans have no history of fighting and overcoming great odds or evils. Lucky for the United States these create a crisis too look brave folks were not around to deliver what they define as “lawlessness” to the Second World War generation, the generation of the Constitutional period, and seriously all the previous generations who created an area where we take rights for granted and often confuse rights for privileges because we had not experienced life without as others in the country had and still do.
I’ve heard some talk, but I have yet to see something that would actually apply to them, me, and those people walking outside my window.
Perhaps you have taken the time to read or hear a lesson from this barefooted Louisiana boy:
Tell people what they want to hear, and you may become popular and rich. Tell people what they need to hear, and they can become empowered while you fade into shadows.
Is the limelight preferable to the shadows?