Guest Author - Debora Dyess
The battle of the US budget is not new. The United States is heavily in debt, borrowing as much as .40 for every dollar spent. The American government now finds itself in the uncomfortable situation of finding their credit nearly maxed out, but spending continues.
One issue facing Congressmen and Representatives is the issue of a debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is the amount of money the country is allowed to borrow to cover their expenses. This number is set by Congress. It has been raised 74 times since the 1960s. As of April, 2011 the debt ceiling is 14 trillion dollars. With that amount expected to be reached by May, 2011, the American government felt the weight of a financial government shut-down loom large in the spring of the year. If it were to happen, the American dollar would lose value and immediate effects would be felt. Military salaries, Social Security payments, retirement payments, and Medicare would stip. The countrywould not be able to keep up interest payments on debt, creating more problems for the unstable American financal situation.
A government shut-down was avoided by a last minute deal between Democrats, Republicans and Independents the evening before the current budget was set to end. People arount the US breathed a sigh of releaf, and it made for a great Saturday Night Live spoof.
A President Obama look-alike pointed out that no one was happy with the compromise, from custodians to aides, from military members to “…nonexential govt workers are upset at being reminded once again that they are nonessential.” Even children, now forced to take those scheduled family vacations to National Parks, threatened with closure if the government had a financial shut-down, weren’t pleased that the issue had been resolved, accordning to the comic.
SNL aside, most Americans do approve of the compromise, with a CNN poll showing 58% in favor of the deal and 38% opposed.
What are the citizens not in favor of? Congress and the president, it appears. With congressional approval ratings dipping into the 20% marks and Obama’s at a meager 48%, politicians realized it was time to play ball. Democrats and Republicans both made sacrifices to what they believed was important, and Indepentents made the deal happen.
Political observers note that the budget crisis made one thing very clear: both parties are rethinking their posisiton not just on spending, but on who they are. Republicans seem to be rethinking what it means to be conservative, balancing their moral standards and financial obligations, and the President seems to be trying to redefine ‘liberal’ for his party.
It will take work on both sides of the political aisle, more compromise and financial responsibility like this country hasn't seen in decades to bring the battle of the budget to a halt.