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Local opinion columnists

No more government at gunpoint

By From page A7 | January 03, 2013

It’s sad having to ring in the new year ashamed of our Sword of Damocles government.

For the uninitiated, Damocles was a courtier to King Dionysius. Damocles remarked how fortunate the king was to have such power and wealth. The king arranged for them to trade places. After Damocles sat upon the throne, the king hung a sword over his head, dangling by a single strand. Damocles quickly gave the king his throne back; the point being made how worrisome and dangerous it was to be king.

Our government, since it cannot govern as the Founding Fathers intended, decided to hang multiple swords above our heads in the form of the “fiscal cliff.” Though the Senate, House and president dealt with the first sword by passing a deal at the eleventh hour should give us no solace.

The expiring Bush tax cuts could’ve been dealt with last year. The Senate passed a law extending the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and the House could’ve saved us unnecessary drama by passing it.

Next up is the debt ceiling. Raising the debt ceiling allows the United States to pay bills that we’ve already incurred. For the first time, Republicans used the debt ceiling as a hostage in 2011 and extracted concessions at the cost of our AAA credit rating, harm to the economy and our national prestige. Now they’re poised to do it again and again, risking a global depression by turning the U.S. into a deadbeat nation.

Then there’s sequestration. These are automatic, deep spending cuts in defense and domestic spending that have been triggered because Congress couldn’t settle on any other cuts. This week’s deal postponed them two months.

Deadlines focus the mind. A newspaper columnist tends to get a lot more productive the closer his/her deadline approaches. Deadlines are necessary for a lot of different endeavors. But to run democracy by deadline and governance by hostage-taking is insane because often you settle for anything just to make the deadline.

California is a textbook case of how not to run a government, but even we manage to cut spending and enact new revenues in a more reasonable manner than the federal government.

Locally, we were faced with ruin and again the people and local government stepped up and through cuts and passage of Measure P, we’ve managed to govern ourselves.

But in Washington, we’re prepared to once again go through the high-stakes fight over the debt ceiling and demonstrate to the world that the world’s premiere democracy may just be in its death throes. President Obama says he’s not going to negotiate over the debt ceiling. Knowing the president’s pathetic history of negotiating, I don’t believe him.

But to end this Sword of Damocles, governance by hostage-taking, the president needs to stick to his word. Shoot the hostage. Call Congress’ bluff. Let them push the country to the brink of oblivion and beyond.

No more governance by pledge or artificial deadlines with catastrophic consequences. Just sit down, debate, negotiate, compromise and do your job. Peace.

Kelvin Wade is a writer who lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Rich GiddensJanuary 02, 2013 - 10:35 pm

    It's truly amazing how no person in California or New York can say the words: "the government has spent too much money and needs to gain control over its finances!". Instead the land of Kirchubels insists that if only we tax and spend some more, then the economic disaster will go away. When asked hypothetically if they did favor cuts what they would cut, no Democratic member of Congress could name a single thing---nada, nothing, zip! I simply would like to point out the areas that could be cut with the failed war effort being number one on my list. If you can't win the war, then why are you wasting our time, money and lives? Then there's the Education Dept in Washington DC that does nothing. Next door is the Energy Dept that spends 40 billion a year yet produces nothing. Do we really need GSA workers that go to parties on the public's dime and time and sit around government offices making rap videos glorifying their robbery of the taxpayer? I can't find a single democrat to understand that spending needs to be cut. Again---if we don't gain control over the spending (if you taxed everybody at 100% of their income, it still wouldn't cover the amount of spending and debt that's been incurred) then the economy and the US dollar will be destroyed and hyper-inflation will make the inner cities explode with rioting and insurrection. Is this what the goal is here? A communist tragedy and destruction of what was once a nation? Why can't you people understand that?

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  • rlw895January 03, 2013 - 5:16 pm

    It's clear from this last deal that the Speaker knows how to break an impasse: Send a shell of a bill over to the Senate and let them fill it up, then bring it back to the House and release it for a vote up or down. There are enough sensible Democrats and Republicans there to outvote the extremeists from both sides. If we can't get the ceremonial debt ceiling vote not to be abused, we should figure out how to eliminate the need for it. I don't believe it is constitutionally necessary.

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  • MRCJanuary 03, 2013 - 8:59 pm

    To say that the Senate, House and POTUS dealt with the first sword is quite an overstatement. What they all conspired to do was to put it off until after the election so that they would not have to discuss it in front of us before the election. Anyone that thought when they put it off in the first place that they all wouldn't be kicking it around right down to the 13th hour is sadly naive. The whole thing was totally predictable. The House is the only adult in the room that knows that the spending gone wild needs to be addressed, but the other 2/3 of decision making government is not willing to slow down in any significant way. This will all just be another rerun with the debt ceiling coming up. POTUS and the Senate will want to raise the credit limit again with no strings attached, just spend on America it will be OK. How can Senator Obama call raising the debt limit “irresponsible and unpatriotic” and then when he is in charge say it is irresponsible and unpatriotic if we don’t raise it for him? By removing 8 zeros from the tax revenue and federal budget to illustrate the madness respective to a household budget would show a annual income of $21,700, spending of $38,200, adding $16,500 debt to an already $142,700 credit card balance (debt) and then thinking that cutting $385 (budget cut) from your annual spending will somehow make a difference in your debt. The Republicans are not trying to “ harm to the economy and our national prestige” but rather attempt to work on spending in the same way everyone be they an individual or business, which is to cut spending and waste. It is never easy but it is the only way to keep from going bankrupt which would really be devastating. If we just continue to increase our debt and keep printing money to cover it up our dollars will soon be worthless and that will be just a great gift we will be leaving for our children. Now that everybody feels better knowing that those heartless millionaires and billionaires are going to pay more taxes, we need to make some serious cuts in spending and waste.

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