•Americans have watched in dismay in recent days as first the government's credit rating and then the stock market took a beating.
•Much of this turmoil could have been averted if members of Congress had not decided to use a vote to raise the debt ceiling to extract legislation to fulfill promises to Tea Party constituents.
•Reports say one of the first items of business for the Super Committee created as part of the debt ceiling legislation compromise will be drastic cuts in farm programs.
In recent days, the American people have witnessed one of the strangest episodes in their 200-plus-year history.
Earlier this year, the newly elected majority in the U.S. House of Representatives decided to use the need to raise the government’s debt ceiling, something that has occurred routinely a number of times in the last 40 years, as leverage for forcing major spending reductions on Congress.
Most people realize the federal debt is too high, and the government needs to reform some of its programs. But many also realize that the deficit didn’t get that way overnight and much of it came from fighting two wars that have each lasted longer than World War II.
So what happened when the House majority tried to play chicken with requiring massive spending cuts as part of the bargain for raising the debt ceiling? So far, their efforts have led to an unprecedented downgrading of the credit rating of the United States and to more than a week of turmoil in the stock market.
Americans who had finally begun to feel they might be able to retire after all are now seeing their 401ks sliding into the tank again. U.S. Banks, particularly the Bank of America, and lending institutions in France are showing signs of problems. And governments in Europe are again lining up for emergency bailout funds.
It may be too much to hope for, but some of this turmoil might be worth it if the new members of Congress learned what farmers have known for years: That the people who have been in Washington for a while do know something about running the country and do write legislation like farm programs for a reason.
And, secondly, just because you can outshout someone at a Tea Party meeting in your district doesn’t make you an expert on economics.