Thought for the Week: What Goal Are We Chasing?

Many are stubborn in the pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.  Friedrich Nietzsche

Last week was a triumphant one in Washington D.C as government leaders put political posturing aside and made the well-being of the economy and the country their number one priority.

Wait a minute. Why does that sentence sound so ridiculous?

This weekend I read a story that positioned the results of the debt-limit debacle as a win for the Republicans. “We have got (sic) 98% of what we wanted,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), much of which was to show the Democrats that they could still exercise some control in the debate. Somehow, DNC Chairman Patrick Gaspard also claimed, “This agreement was a stinging defeat for the Ryan/House Republican Budget Approach.”  If that’s not enough, the new super-committee (be careful what you ask for) does not have to sort out the budget question until 2013…conveniently allowing the election cycle to run through without the distraction of the legislative chaos of the last few months.

The debt debate adds to the house of cards If the goal is to appear to take action while protecting electoral desires for the future, then yes, perhaps our political leaders have managed well with this demon. If the goal is to make some of the hard decisions necessary to get the U.S. economy back on track, then it was an abysmal failure regardless of political party.  There is no clear “pain-free” method of getting us out of this mess and sooner or later our leadership will have to stop worrying about re-election and start doing something.

The immediate result of this debt debate resolution is the downgrading of U.S. credit for the first time.  We don’t know what that ultimately means, but it is clear that it has added even more uncertainty into a volatile market.  At the end of the day, I still have faith in our system to manage itself, but it will be a slow and difficult process without strong and focused leadership. We have to remember that when this new election season gets underway.


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