America’s Favorite Pastime: Procrastination

Americans, when we finally commit ourselves to someting, close the deal.  Take a look at our entry into the Second World War.  Couldn’t have come a day sooner for the likes of Winston Churchill, but we finally got our asses into gear and wiped the continent of Europe free of Nazis in three and a half years (with a lot of help from the Soviets).  It took us a while to get ourselves into action, but once we did, we were unstoppable.

Well, Americans are much like that in a number of areas.  Basically, we’re not a very proactive people.  We act, usually, at the last possible minute, usually much more from a reactive stance than a proactive one.  And this time around with the debt negotiations for the federal government is no different.  Negotiations surrounding a topic as complex and tedious as the United States federal debt ceiling is part political theater, part political posturing and part plain indifference to something that is unpleasant and much better avoided (so goes the mindset).  Even as I type this, I’m yawning, and I’m a political junkie.  That’s how boring this topic is when you get down to the details.

To go along with a proposed hike, Republicans want spending cuts.  Shocking.  Democrats want to raise taxes.  You don’t say?  And likely, there’s going to be a compromise package to which both sides are going to grudgingly agree.  It’s going to contain elements that are obnoxious to both sides, but, that’s the nature of the beast that drives American politics (or at least should): compromise.

And that compromise is likely to do little to actually solve the problem.  With deficits topping a trillion dollars a year stretching into the future for as far as the fiscal eye can see, the idea that our venerable Congress will either cut enough spending or raise taxes enough is highly, highly unlikely.  Expect them to punt on this one.  I expect that they’ll fix it just enough to get by, but not enough to really fundamentally alter any of the fiscal underpinnings of our federal government.  What’s much more likely, is that it’ll take a crisis to get Americans to close the deficit.  I know that we’re capable of it.  But, as history’s demonstrated, it’s that we, as a nation, like to wait until the last minute humanly possible to jump in and solve problems.  Honestly, sometimes it takes a crisis to finally galvanize this nation.  And when that happens, we’re fairly formidable.  Until then, lower your expectations.


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