When your dissolute political establishment sinks to the point of being fit for lectures from Chinese Communists on spending restraint, and from erstwhile Soviet revanchists on foreign-affairs modesty, you are at rock bottom. Welcome to Washington.
Remember two summers ago, the depths of the last Beltway debacle on out-of-control borrowing that charted the course for today’s latest Beltway debacle on spending and taxes. It was then that China’s rulers blasted Uncle Santa for our “debt addiction,” our failure to observe “the commonsense principle” that a nation, like a family, must “live within its means.” At the time, U.S. sovereign debt — of which China is, not coincidentally, a major holder — had been downgraded below triple-A for the first time ever.
The Obamedia, fearing that their hero would be irreparably harmed by this signature achievement, reliably promoted a false narrative: Conservative “extremists” were refusing to extend the president’s tapped-out credit line, sending shivers through the bond markets. In reality, the explanation for the downgrade was not the contretemps over the statutory “debt ceiling”; it was the astronomical debt itself. The ceiling was significant only because it occasioned convincing proof that Washington is not serious about addressing our spending crisis. When you are borrowing to pay the interest on prior borrowing, it is time to cut spending — drastically. Washington won’t even consider it. That is what signals to creditors that our “full faith and credit” may not be credible. When you are burning through other people’s money because you’ve already spent your own people’s money for the next few generations, promises to pay are not very reliable.