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We Can’t Afford a Deadbeat Government

Do you believe in miracles? I do. I’ve witnessed them. I’ve experienced them. And right now our country desperately needs a miracle to get us out of an otherwise-impossible dilemma.

Absent a deal to increase the debt limit, on or about August 2nd, the United States will no longer be able to meet its obligations to its creditors.

Don’t be fooled by talk about “technical defaults” or “a few days delay”: Defaulting on our obligations would be an absolute catastrophe that could conceivably trigger an international financial panic. Interest rates on government-issued debt alone would rise, worsening budget deficits.

Even worse would be the hit to our reputation. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency for one reason: safety. If we default then the single biggest reason for these investments would be gone. Investors would be forced to conclude that the American political system is not up to the task of governing.

I wouldn’t blame them.

Two horrific possibilities, therefore, are staring us in the face: First, the Democrats and Republicans don’t reach a deal, the debt ceiling is not raised, and we default. The second awful possibility is that they extend the debt limit without a deal to reduce runaway government spending. We’d be bankrupt as a nation in two years; the currency will collapse.

So, we've got to get a deal that extends the debt limit as little as possible, while reducing the deficit by 4 to 6 trillion dollars. And that’s where the miracle comes in. Because both sides don’t want to anger their political base. But to get a deal, both sides will have to risk it: For liberals, that means cutting spending until it hurts, for conservatives, it means giving in on refusing to raise revenues. That appears to be the latest deal breaker.

I don’t want to see taxes increase. I believe tax increase stifles growth and encourages big government. I like Reagan’s statement, “Starve the beast.” But at the same time, nothing in Scripture says a government can’t raise taxes. Besides, we’re not talking about raising taxes as much as we are cutting out corporate welfare in the form of lucrative tax loopholes.

If it takes this to get a deal, why not.

The why not is that both sides know that the big-money interests are behind those loopholes. Who will look in the face of big money and risk millions in political contributions by voting against them? Only someone with courage, a virtue in short supply these days in Washington.

Look, as someone with a well-deserved reputation as a political street fighter, I understand the political pressures. As a Christian and an American, I am appalled at the way our so-called “leaders” are playing chicken with the Full Faith and Credit of the United States.

While both sides maneuver to obtain the maximum political advantage, the countdown to default is inexorably heading toward “0.” While people can disagree about the right levels of government spending and revenues, we ought to all agree that our bills must be paid and that we have to stop hemorrhaging money with disastrous deficits.

It’s time for our leaders to risk angering their political bases -- even their political futures -- to do what’s right for the country.

We don't deserve it, but please God, cause our public servants to do the right thing. And yes that would be miraculous.

This article published on July 13, 2011. Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.  

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