In a Sunday morning comment, Robert Scheiffer correctly stated that we would solve our debt ceiling stand-off when enough members of Congress had the courage to rise above the demands of ideological movements and interest groups they relied on for political and financial support in getting elected and remaining in office. In addition to this kind of courage, however, those same members of Congress have to have a sense of the national interest that is bigger than the Tea Party or any similar demand group.
A large part of the reason these members of Congress have no courage is they cannot see a bigger cause than the narrow causes to whom they traded their integrity for votes and dollars. There is an identifiable national interest that is greater than all the Tea Parties, Wall Street financial powers, AARPs, defense contractors, mindless anti-tax lobbying groups, and every other interest rolled into one. That national interest is simply what is best for the country today and in the future.
There is a huge consensus that we cannot operate on debt and deficit forever. We don’t need the Tea Party to tell us that. But I would guess that a majority of Tea Party members receive either Social Security or Medicare, or both, and don’t believe their “cuts in spending” include them. Achieving that consensus isn’t the problem. But financial stability cannot be restored without additional revenues. Everyone but the Tea Party–and that includes Republican “leaders”–knows that. They simply do not have the courage to tell their constituents that, which is Mr. Scheiffer’s point.
It would help a great deal if the President, editorial writers, leading business people, educators, historians, and former elected officials all stood up to define the national interest. I was told years ago by a U.S. Senator that national security required a sound dollar, secure borders (against hostile invasion), and the confidence of the people in their government. I would add to that a society in which we all cared about each other as fellow Americans. Right now we have none of these.