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October 8, 2013
The Dismal Science
Gridlock
by Adam Smith

Could things get any more bizarre in Washington D.C.?

Congress and the President cannot agree on a continuing resolution to fund the government to keep it running, so some of the government is in shutdown. And then there is the debt ceiling, which is going to have to be raised in a week or two and there is going to be a battle over the debt.

I recently went to a conference and an economist was giving us an update on the economy. He said it was sluggish. Not sure you have to have a PhD. to have that insight. But what struck me was that this economist had a political ideology and he was very forceful in stating his beliefs as facts. He was great at telling half-truths, leaving out other possible explanations.

I sat there looking at all the other people in the room and realized they trusted him to be telling them the absolute truth, and they were getting anything but the truth. I wondered how people that have no economic training have any understanding about what is really going on with the economy.

So for what it’s worth here is my opinion about what is going on in D.C.

Republicans are rightly focused on what we, as a country, have promised in future payouts compared to future revenues. However, catastrophe and ruin are not right around the corner. There is definitely some room to increase our debt and not cause a collapse of the economy.

Long-term there has to be reform, but over the next year it is not imperative. Congress needs to fund the laws they have passed.

I was listening to a popular conservative talk show host and he was convinced that if the U.S. defaulted on its debt it would not make any difference. Um…..right.

Republicans hate Obamacare. Anyone that reads this column knows that I think it will lead to a reduced level of care for the poor and middle class and so I am not a fan of the legislation. However, it is the law of the land and with the Republicans only controlling one house of Congress there is really little they can do to prevent its initial implementation.

Instead of trying to defund Obamacare and shutting down the government over two small issues, the Republicans should have been introducing legislation to improve the law and then when these improvements were rejected by the Senate and President, they should have funded the government on time. The Republicans look reasonable, can state they tried to make it better, and can blame all of the consequences of Obamacare on the Democrats.

Democrats love to spend money. The economists that spoke at that conference really don’t think the trillion dollars debt per year we have been running is nearly enough. Not even close. Um…..right.

However, in this showdown, the Democrats are on the right side. Fund the government and Obamacare.

If Republicans do not like the laws, win some elections. If you as a citizen do not like Obamacare, donate more to candidates that have your views and focus on making enough money so you do not have to use government run healthcare.

You just have to laugh at the Democrats. They love to defund the National Parks. They know that it is the only touch point for most Americans with the federal government and if the parks stayed open everyone would start to wonder what all those people were doing in D.C. You could eliminate huge portions of the federal government and almost all the citizens would not notice (Department of Education, EPA, and others), so they defund the National Parks. Politicians can be small, small people.

The way congressional districts are gerrymandered has led us to having extremes in Congress. The people in the congressional districts want congressmen that will fight for their point of view. So the craziness we see in D.C. is just what we elected.

And each side has economists or talking heads telling the citizens what they should think about the economy. Half-truths and distortions. And the politicians, doing whatever is necessary to keep a hold on power, fiddling while…


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