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We are all responsible for Washington’s mess

Progressive Cattleman Editor David Cooper Published on 24 January 2013

Watching Congress and the White House fumble economic policy, Americans probably think they have the moral high ground to say, “we deserve better.”

Fact is, no, you don’t. What’s happening in Washington is something we all helped create. Until we change ourselves, we deserve every bit of it.

We invited this pox upon our house through years of overspending, by waging wars without revenue to support them, by growing addicted to convenient debt, by electing craven ambitious leaders who don’t care to lead and by ignoring industries that define our core.

You can count agricultural legislation into that last category, as exemplified by Congress and its decision to ignore any urgency for farm bill legislation until later this year.

That’s what you get in spite of being one of the key sectors most proven to drive growth in today’s economy.

Instead, our eyes stay fixed on the pileup crashes adorning the traffic of government.

As the clock ticked away toward a new year, Congress and the president had nowhere to turn but to finally craft a fiscal cliff deal.

The compromises reached on estate taxes, income tax rates, capital gains taxes and payroll taxes may be steps forward, but they are countered by additional deadlines that loom in the weeks and months ahead.

By the time you get this edition, we’ll be facing an even nastier confrontation over the nation’s debt ceiling – the congressionally installed limit on how much the U.S. Treasury can borrow to pay our country’s debt obligations, which now reaches $16.4 trillion.

Expect to hear a torrid constitutional debate on the president’s power to ignore the debt ceiling and Congress’ ability to enforce it.

Don’t be the least bit surprised if the Supreme Court is forced to untangle the knots that have been strung by our collective and personal folly.

But what’s most disturbing is how every attempt at a political solution is made on the precipice of disaster.

When our leaders operate by political brinksmanship and impasse, their work usually results in short-lived solutions that solve nothing, yet inevitably steer us toward the next battle.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know this kicking the can down the road is a habit that we’ve endorsed far too long. We accepted reckless fiscal management, and that’s what we got.

And if we want to change it – we must stare long and hard at the image in our mirror.

America wasn’t built by keeping a tab at the saloon. Our factories, farms, ranches and homes should operate on another level.

When we set a deadline for a task, it needs to be completed – not inevitably delayed. We need to balance short-term duties with long-term vision and seek ways to assure our future.

We should spend resources by determining what resources we have coming in. And we must recognize that it’s better to earn interest than pay it.

When we choose to live by those standards, it will be easier to demand that those who represent us do the same.  end mark

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David Cooper
Editor
Progressive Cattleman magazine

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