The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Daily GOP Ignominious: Ben Carson And The National Debt

Do you think it critical a candidate for the US Presidency has any basic understanding of matters critical to the economic health of our nation? If you do not recognize the significance of economic wherewithal, even if rudimentary knowledge as critical to a US president's knowledge base, you are either lying or you are truly a danger to yourself, your family and all things America. 

Apparently, the GOP is offering one candidate (running second in most polls) who flat out has no concept of the US Debt Limit. We are approaching a deadline for raising the national debt and immersed in a period when Republicans in Congress historically tantalize their money backers with "Shut er down" (AKA Not raising the Debt Limit and effectively shutting down the US government).  If you aren't a person who follows US politics and current events you may not know Ben Carson is running a strong second among the corral of GOP candidates vying for the 2016 nomination. Ben Carson recently sat for an interview with net outcomes including the significant point; he has no knowledge of the US Debt Limit.  

Let's make certain we are on the same page and reading from a solid knowledge base.  It starts with a definition. 

Debt Limit

The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past. 

Failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences. It would cause the government to default on its legal obligations – an unprecedented event in American history. That would precipitate another financial crisis and threaten the jobs and savings of everyday Americans – putting the United States right back in a deep economic hole, just as the country is recovering from the recent recession. 

For readers who prefer a more visual and descriptive explanation of "The Debt Limit."

Very basically. the Debt Limit relates to our nation's ability to pay financial obligations incurred during the course of running the federal government and facilitating life for all in the nation. Even more basically the Congress and the President have obligated the nation to pay existing obligations made via prior approval from The Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal Government.

At this point, we are ready to explore the Carson interview. Remember, you and me are not running for the US Presidency. If we are not ready with a deeply ingrained understanding of economic matters leading to sound economic policy, that is OK. The opposite is true for the horde of people running for nomination to run for President.

Carson sat for a radio interview with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal a few days back.

Huffington Post offers a key points transcript of the interaction.

In the interview Wednesday, Ryssdal pressed Carson on whether he'd raise the debt ceiling to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. Carson replied, "I would not sign an increased budget," an answer that seems to conflate the debt ceiling with the overall federal budget. 
Here's the first part of the exchange (bolding by HuffPost):
Ryssdal: All right, so let's talk about debt then and the budget. As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, "We're gonna run out of money, we're gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November." Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt? 
Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.
Readers, to be clear -- the budget and the debt ceiling are not the same thing. The debt ceiling sets the maximum amount the federal government can borrow to meet its existing obligations, such as paying out Social Security, military salaries, interest on the debt, etc. So the ceiling isn't about finding new stuff to spend money on -- it's about fulfilling the obligations the government has already committed to. 
Raising the debt ceiling used to be a perfunctory thing, but over the past few years, it's become a centerpiece of congressional shenanigans. Republicans in Congress have threatened not to raise the limit if Congress doesn't make spending cuts -- thus tying the ceiling thing to the budget thing, which sort of explains why Carson answered the question that way.
Historically, this hasn't worked. However, the debt ceiling fights have freaked out Wall Street and other countries, and even forced a government shutdown. 
Ryssdal tried to explain the difference between the ceiling and the budget to Carson, but it didn't appear to take.
Ryssdal: To be clear, it's increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You'd let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, "Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we're not raising any spending limits, period."
He tries again:
Ryssdal: I'm gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that's already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred? 
Carson: What I'm saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You're always gonna ask the same question every year. And we're just gonna keep going down that pathway. That's one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Let's accept reality. Primary polling means little as it has historically failed to accurately track the eventual outcomes of primary elections. In 2012, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain actually pooled as leading candidates. Each fell off the campaign trail within months of their temporary leading the pack. The reality is, Ben Carson will never receive the GOP nomination (neither will Donald Trump). Carson is showing signs of mental processes that are the anthesis of a typical presidential candidate. His thought process takes him to oral comments that frankly are so far outside the realm of indications of good mental health it is actually humorous at times and disgusting in other cases.

Another reality. The GOP has historically appealed to white voters via a very effective Southern Strategy.' The party is 90% white for a reason.  What will the GOP/RNC do if Carson wins the nomination with and via the win alienate millions upon millions who rely on the GOP for casting their anti-minority social vote? Many American bigots and racist will never vote for an African-American. I think it safe to posit the vast majority of those voters are consistent and reliable GOP votes. 

Carson responded to the Wednesday interaction of pure ignorance regarding a critical matter came the very next day.
"Critics have blown this way out of proportion," Carson said in a statement released Thursday -- one day after a tense exchange with Marketplace reporter Kai Ryssdal over whether he'd raise the debt ceiling ahead of the looming Nov. 5 deadline.
Your GOP a work.


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