Only in a town like this would criminally reckless and penniless grifters still be at the bargaining table as their debtors and creditors pick through the rubble of the financial ruin they themselves created.
This Congress has for decades stolen billions out of our personal retirement account to fund an obscene lavishness and political nest-feathering that would make a king blush. Perhaps the king only feared having his head on a pike and his crown skittering down the cobblestone — but he still would blush.
In recent years when one party firmly controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House, not only did it fail to curb spending or find new “revenue,” it failed to perform the simplest, most basic task of agreeing on a budget. And that was with one-party rule!
President Obama, who twice has earned voters’ support based on the notion that he is a sensible and trustworthy adult, has perhaps the worst individual record of them all.
When he opened his absurdly named Fiscal Responsibility Summit shortly after taking office in 2009, he reiterated his promise to cut the massive deficit.
“Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office,” he said, explaining how wrong it would be to leave such calamitous debt to our children.
“I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay, and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control,” he said.
When Mr. Obama took office, the debt was $10.6 trillion. Today, after he dismissed his Fiscal Responsibility Summit findings with barely a grunt and apparently hosted nightly cash bonfires in the Rose Garden, our debt surpasses $16 trillion.
Neither party should be spared our scorn. As Mr. Obama has railed so righteously for years, President George W. Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress devised two expensive wars without insisting they be paid for with spending cuts that everyone would feel.
The stunning hypocrisy is that now Mr. Obama is doing precisely the same thing by creating a massive new health care entitlement program that is paid for by assumed savings and efficiencies never before seen in the history of this federal government. What makes this even worse than Mr. Bush’s wars is that wars end eventually. Government entitlement programs live forever.
If all this financial carnage had been committed by anyone else or by any other entity, such as a corporation, the whole lot would have been rounded up and thrown into jail. A bankruptcy judge would sift through the wreckage to see how the dupes, creditors and shareholders might recoup some of their massive losses. And if any of the collaborators in the Ponzi scheme ever saw the light of day again, they would spend the rest of their lives in debtors prison.
At the very least, you might think, their fiduciary responsibility in the government surely would be taken away from them.
But not here. Not in this town. Not with this crowd.
Here, they still have a seat at the table negotiating this and that. If history is any guide (which it almost always is) these decisions will only further wreck things.
Not only are they still at the table, they are the only ones at the table, and we suckers — the unwitting co-signers on their financial calamity — stand on the sidelines watching them debate.
Is it any wonder, then, that the one reigning principle on which both sides seem to have reached an agreement is that under no circumstances will they stop or slow spending money we do not have unless and until they finalize arrangements for you and me to give them some more of our hard-earned money?
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.