I’m an Independent. I believe America needs a balanced budget based on the priority needs of people, not the demands of crony capitalists. I see our dependence on ever-increasing debt as a form of slavery.

Democrats boast that America’s budget was headed toward balance under President Clinton. While his role in that achievement is debatable, it’s true that our country’s finances were in much better shape when Clinton handed Bush the reigns than when Bush handed them to Obama.

The last time Republicans ruled America, they left us with a huge budget deficit. Dems emphasize this in concert with two talking points: 1) Bush busted the budget with tax cuts; and 2) he glossed over the resulting fiscal imbalance by repeatedly raising the debt limit.

Republicans went along with that strategy when they were in power. Why don’t they just keep doing that now when Democrats have adopted the same basic approach? The Bush tax cuts were extended last year, when Democrats controlled Washington. Why won’t Republicans just go along with raising the debt limit, now that we need to borrow more money to pay our bills?

The answer, say devoted Dems, is that Republicans won’t raise the debt limit now because a black man who wears a blue jersey occupies the Oval Office. Republicans are partisan hypocrites who care more about being in power than taking care of our country. So say some Democrats.

Here are a few points I don’t hear much from blue jersey fans.

1)   When Republicans controlled Washington, and Bush needed to raise the debt limit, Democrats voted as a block in opposition. They did this in 2003, 2004, and 2006, just like Republicans did when Democrats had complete control in 2009 and 2010. Here’s an interesting post from last January with some very good graphs on this topic. Voting records show that raising the debt limit has been the purview of whichever party holds power. When Republicans control Washington, Democrats pretend to object to deeper indebtedness. These staged positions switch as actors wearing red or blue take turns in the majority.

2)   Up until now, the rank and file has followed along with this script. Many observers predicted the debt limit would be raised last Spring, with bi-partisan support, as has been the norm when Congress is divided (like 2002 and 2007). But that didn’t happen. Leaders missed a publicized deadline, and the Obama administration was forced to find another short-term means of paying the bills. Now here we are again, being lectured by bankers and political leaders who say not meeting the new deadline will result in economic Armegeddon. They may be right, just as they may have been right to use similar apocalyptic language to describe what would have happened if Congress had not passed the Bush bank bailout.

3)   It wasn’t really the “Bush bailout,” because it was approved by a majority of Democrats in a House they controlled. And a majority of Republicans were willing to oppose their titular leader by voting against it.

The bailout is our best political indicator of what we face now with the debt limit. Republicans are in the same basic position that Democrats were with the bailout. Will representatives change a pattern that has enabled America to pretend we care about indebtedness, even though we are utterly dependent upon it?

Budget priorities are the bottom line for me. I abhor our indebted servitude to crony capitalists, chiefly those who profit from war. It vexes me that leaders of both parties are willing to sacrifice our limited resources in service to military contractors. Even more so when they use the least privileged among us as human shields, threatening draconian measures if we refuse to go deeper into debt to pay off the warmongers.

Leaders will be quick to cast blame if their 11th-hour deal goes bust. They will label those who don’t follow along – right and left — as extremists willing to risk economic collapse in order to advance ideologies. The corporate media will broadcast that blame at full volume.

Many will get caught up in that blood bath of blame, should America hold to its debt limit. Yet those who love our country more than political jerseys will plow common ground. We’ll team up to pass a real balanced budget that turns swords into plowshares.

Cross-posted at dagblog.com.

Watt Childress

Watt Childress

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