Politics crowds out principles
By John Browne
Published: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Down-to-the-deadline arguing over increasing the national debt and proposals to delay Obamacare focused the public's attention on Washington this past week. According to recent polls, most Americans do not like what they see.
Congress stands at its lowest rating ever with 87 percent of Americans disapproving of their performance, according to a CNN/ORC International poll. One is left to wonder what the 10 percent who did approve were thinking. The fact that this is the lowest approval level in history is disconcerting in a democracy that faces great structural challenges.
Republicans, some of whom dared to suggest slowing the federal government's rush toward an unsustainable level of debt, stand at a record low in the polls. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll concluded that most Americans blamed the GOP for the government shutdown, sending party support to a mere 24 percent.
Democrats in Congress didn't garner a lot of love either, indicating voters blamed both parties for pushing the nation to the brink.
Those associated with the non-party Tea Party, however, aroused more public anger than either of the two major parties. The same NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows support for the Tea Party has fallen to 21 percent.
People see the budget debate as largely one of party politics rather than as a political struggle of principle. Americans benefitting from the trillions of synthetic dollars created by the Federal Reserve have minimal interest in cutting entitlements in order to return the country to sound finances.
With a culture of ‘career' politicians, this popular sentiment likely will thwart any political action to restore common sense spending and balanced budgets. Likely, this situation will continue until bond or currency markets dictate eventually some harsh austerity and sound budgeting in return for continued financial support.
The Tea Party is a grass- roots movement without the important organizational structure of a conventional party. Doubtless, their low rating has been influenced by some of the wild statements of both Democrat and Republican politicians. Some legislators described Tea Party Americans as “anarchists,” even “terrorists.” Such extreme and degrading characterizations of grass-roots Americans exposes a deep fracture within U.S. society.
Without any party machinery, the Tea Party claims to stand democratic-ally against big government and its massive costs, which it sees as crushing the economic independence of ordinary Americans. Members of the two major political parties are becoming increasingly partisan, if not prejudiced. This combative, even hostile, atmosphere detracts from the ability of Congress to tackle the important tasks of managing the nation's budget and its growing debt.
In addition, career politicians have one overriding interest: getting re-elected. This goal is placed, usually covertly, above all others. Little wonder that Americans fed up with Congress talk increasingly of term limits. Without term limits, chronic overspending and debt likely will continue unchecked.
International bond markets need to call a halt to profligate U.S. government spending by requiring economic restructuring and austerity as they have done already in Europe.
John Browne, a former member of Britain's Parliament, is a financial and economics columnist for Trib Total Media. Email him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- Boxer ‘Hurricane’ Carter, famously wrongly convicted, dies at 76
- Miss America asks York school to rethink prom question suspension
- Biertempfel: Kendall’s book offers inside look at life in majors
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- More women seize opportunities to start businesses
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man
- NFL notebook: Pryor will be cut if he’s not traded