Sen. Sam Slom - Photo courtesy of Mel Ah Ching Productions

Sen. Sam Slom - Photo courtesy of Mel Ah Ching Productions

BY SEN. SAM SLOM – I remember 30 years ago, as an economist with the Bank of Hawaii, writing and speaking about a looming vote on the nation’s debt ceiling.

My position then was that we should not raise the debt limit, which was “modest” compared to the current national debt of $14.5 trillion ($ 46,450 per citizen), because there was a limit or ceiling for a good reason. We should instead, utilize fiscal restraint.

I cautioned that ignoring the limit would result in extreme debt problems for the U.S. economy in the years ahead.

The U.S. debt ceiling was easily raised by substantial bi-partisan vote with little discussion and no rancor. During my tenure at Bankoh, it was raised again several times..

Fast forward to 2011 when the issue of increasing the debt limit is the number one political potato in Washington. There is rancor. There is partisan politics. There is plenty of drama and unsubstantiated scare tactics.

Raise the debt ceiling by August 2 or face doom. Some say.

Have you ever watched the U.S. debt “clock?”  Try it out at www.usdebtclock.org. Be careful, it may cause violent spinning in your head. Check Hawaii’s debt too on the same site, currently at $12.2 billion, $8,859 per citizen.

Today, one of the richest and most influential investors in America, Warren Buffet, called for an immediate, positive vote on increasing the limit. Buffet argued that not to do this would bring on an unknown calamity. He also likened the current political standoff as the same as playing “Russian Roulette.”

Buffet’s call echoes that of President Obama, all Democrat congressional leaders, many big business CEOs and some Republicans too, including a handful of conservative journalists and strategists.

It seems it is only those pesky House Republicans who remain stubborn—I prefer committed—and who refuse to budge on the debt increase unless there is a substantial reduction in government spending, with no tax increases.

Are they rational or just obstructionist?

Where has a continuous increase in our spending and debt gotten us? Less prosperity, not more. Less value and respect for the dollar, not more. Less economic sustainability, not more. Less of a standard of living for our people, not more. Where has there been a single benefit?

To agree to continually surpassing the debt ceiling is financially and economically irresponsible. It is not properly representing American taxpayers. It is long range disaster with short range impact.

What about the claims that if we don’t increase the debt limit, the U.S. will default and there will be a world wide crisis?

False.

We already have a world wide crisis. Can you spell G-R-E-E-C-E? The cause for this crisis, also occurring in Ireland, Portugal, France and a European country near you? Debt and spending!

By the way, we already passed two earlier “deadlines,” with hardly a notice.

Now comes August 2. Will the U.S. default if the ceiling is not raised? The answer is clearly no because we still take in more revenues than the total of debt service, even though it continues to escalate. It would simply mean we would have to give more to paying the debt and less to other favored government  spending programs until we get our financial house in order.

No single Mom, family, or small business has the luxury of continuing to spend beyond its means; none has the ability to borrow beyond its credit capability, or to impose taxes on their neighbor. And none of us have begged the government to keep on spending and borrowing.

Russian Roulette? No, more like the example of empowering a family member on drugs. We have all seen the graphic consequences of continuing the addiction.

When is it time to just say no? The House Republicans are right. Now is that time.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. With all the experts weighing in, it is clearly dangerous to our economy to gamble with our AAA rating by defaulting and not raising the ceiling. For ideological and dogmatic Republicans who care little about our country’s ecomomy and all about winning the next election, it is not surprising that THIS TIME around the GOP has flip flopped.
    Mr. Slom: How many times did the GOP raise it under Bush? Answer: 7 times. Can you say the word HYPOCRICY? Yes, folks, we are seeing a game plan of WINNING AT ALL COSTS from this current crop of Republicans.

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