President Barack Obama offered this misplaced assurance last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America”: “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.”
Four days later, a party leader in a federal legislative body, when asked about that presidential comment, answered on ABC’s “This Week”: “We do not have an immediate debt crisis.”
No, that wasn’t Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
That was House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
At least Rep. Boehner added that a debt crisis is “looming.” He correctly cited “entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form” as the main reason.
Still, with $6 trillion added to the national debt since President Obama was sworn in for his first term, how much more immediate must our debt problem become before our elected officials take immediate action to solve it?
Even a presidential debt commission’s late 2010 alarm and a bewildering series of debt-ceiling, fiscal-cliff and sequester showdowns have yet to inspire the president and Congress to overdue action. Consequently, the hard but necessary budgetary calls keep getting more difficult with every wasted year.
Next up: Wednesday’s deadline for a continuing appropriations resolution to avert a federal government shutdown.
Yet the House speaker from the more conservative of America’s two major political parties went along with the no-rush notion that our debt crisis is not “immediate.”
So how deep must the red ink rise before Rep. Boehner would consider that term applicable?
A few years back, plenty of folks in Cyprus thought they weren’t facing an immediate debt crisis, either.
Then last Saturday the European Commission announced a bailout proposal that would require Cyprus to impose new taxes of up to 12 percent on personal savings accounts.
Cyprus’ parliament rejected that plan on Tuesday. Cypriot officials said Thursday that they are working on a new “recovery” framework. Also on Thursday, though, Standard & Poor’s dropped Cyprus’ credit rating from a triple-C-plus to a triple-C.
Meanwhile, the European Commission warned anew that the island nation must come up with “an alternative scenario respecting the debt sustainability criteria and corresponding financing parameters.”
In other words, there’s no such thing as a free bailout.
And with America’s record national debt at $16.74 trillion and rising, there’s no time like the present to bring a sense of “immediate” urgency to our relentlessly escalating bottom-line challenge.