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The downgrading of America

Cal Thomas's picture

My father was a product of the Great Depression and World War II. Like so many others of his generation, he, like his parents before him, knew how to “do without.”

When he told us, “we can’t afford it,” that did not mean our family was deprived of material things we deserved; instead it marked a boundary not to be crossed because on the other side, waiting to greet us, were the twin demons of bad credit and financial ruin.

“Always pay the bank,” was my father’s sound advice. And so I have, which is why my credit score remains high.

Not so with the United States government. Under both parties, but especially free-spending Democrats, the greatest nation on Earth has seen its credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA-plus, putting us on the same level as Belgium and New Zealand.

This would be shameful if America had any shame left. In our race to give everyone what they want, politicians have failed miserably to give us what we need.

Saying “no” is not in their vocabulary. Living within our means has been replaced with “entitlement,” “spreading the wealth around” and “fairness.” Instead of promoting people who have made right decisions that have allowed them to be self-sustaining and contribute to the nation’s health and strength, President Obama and congressional Democrats ridicule and seek to penalize the successful (while happily receiving their campaign contributions). Success and wealth are frowned upon, while failure and poverty are a kind of preferred righteousness worthy of being subsidized by the “evil” productive.

This attitude is the polar opposite of the optimistic, risk-taking and reward culture that built and sustained America through previous economic downturns. And it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who will lead us out of this mess and make the necessary spending cuts?

Jimmy Carter, to whom President Obama is increasingly compared, attempted to sell “malaise” and retreat to a nation with optimism and progress in its DNA. It is no shame to be ignorant of how to solve a problem as long as you continue to press on toward a solution. However, it is a great shame to know how a problem can be solved and not solve it because you prefer the issue to remain an issue.

That is where we are with the recent debt-ceiling agreement. It means little to Standard & Poor’s analysts. In their decision to downgrade America’s pristine credit rating, S&P said it does not substantially reduce debt and they are not persuaded America is serious about doing so in the near future. The Obama administration’s response has been to attack S&P’s methodology. S&P has threatened to downgrade us again.

What don’t liberals understand about bloated government? Instead of a commission made up of politicians who created the problem, outside auditors with no political connections should be brought in and empowered to eliminate every government agency that does not produce services essential to strengthening the nation.

They can start with the Departments of Education, which does not educate, Energy, which produces none, Housing and Urban Development, which builds no houses and Veterans Affairs, whose responsibilities can be handled by the Defense Department. Some of these — and many others — were created as political gifts to various constituencies. We can’t afford them. They can be eliminated. Loads of money can be saved.

In April, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on the Fox Business Network there was “no risk” America’s credit rating would be downgraded. Like so many other forecasts by this administration, he was wrong.

Ric Edelman, chairman & CEO of Edelman Financial Services, rated by Barron’s as America’s top independent financial adviser, tells me the market’s downturn “is a political reaction, not an economic reaction. Soon, investors will realize their folly, and prices will recover nicely.” He adds, “The economy is improving. Growth is slower than we’d like, but growth it is ... the 500 biggest companies in America are still sitting on $1 trillion in cash.”

Getting that $1 trillion off the sidelines will also require a different political reaction. That will come in November 2012, which cannot come fast enough.

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] ©2011 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.


.....I could agree with much of what you say above providing you would also write another article telling us what Bush and his dudes did wrong, would you do it?

Also, explain to me how Wall Street did us in (those builders of wealth for everyone) and also the hedge fund managers successes?

Are bankers now ruined for life? They did make terrible loans to terrible people and then got bailed out.
Or is it OK to act like Wall Street and The Banks as long AS THEY KEEP ON SOLVING ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS AS YOU SAY?

By the way, who do you think made the profit from the stock uptick, then downtick, then uptick again?
The computer users (institutions, unions, 401-ks, and the very wealthy), must have socked it into Treasury Notes, didn't they?

The poor fools who gamble with the computers lost it just as before.

Cyclist's picture

Out of all of what Cal said this one comment sums it up best;

"In our race to give everyone what they want, politicians have failed miserably to give us what we need."

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

It actually portends to be stupid to ignore the actual causes of our predicament, such as I listed, and simply say "politicians!"

It is utterly sickening that some won't recognize the elements and persons who put us in this mess---and it isn't just the word "politicians."

How would Cal Thomas know what we need better than elected officials who have the burden of not only running the country, but can be held responsible for that---something Cal Thomas isn't burdened with!

He is a sniper in the woods, no matter who is actually doing the work.
I'm sure his religion as he portends to have, would also work in the manner he does.

There’s nothing wrong with America, which has not been downgraded at all, but our leadership has—in both political parties. When we get new leadership in next year’s national election, we’ll dump this socialistic administration and get on with America’s business, which is business. The economy will boom, Wall Street will flourish, unemployment will go down, and the budget will get balanced, all because Washington will have finally learned that they can’t manage the economy by stimulating big government. But just now, we’re experiencing an administration led by a president who has nothing to offer except words, and he is without doubt the wordiest president we’ve ever had.

Now, President Obama is not my politics, but he is my president. From watching him in action, it’s plain to see that he’s a “one-trick act,” which is to say that he’s the embodiment of a trained circus pet who comes on stage and does his little act, accepts the applause, gets a treat and then retreats to wait until he’s called again to do what he’s learned to do. The one act he does exceedingly well, but that’s all he can do. His act is campaigning, delivering his rehearsed sales pitch as well as any snake-oil salesman ever performed, and he’s superb at delivering it.

Stop and recall what he did after his inauguration: After convincing the American people to buy his snake oil, he took his act on the road and began performing on the world stage. If we had watched him carefully, we would have been able to predict his ambitious itinerary. The world? They were so impressed with his act that they gave him a Nobel Prize.

Returning to the White House, President Obama faced the problem of a growing recession that he inherited in large part from the Bush Administration. Rather than try to solve the crippling economic woes, he turned to using his little one-act on health-care and successfully campaigned for its passage. And when the Congress began the debate over raising the debt ceiling, he turned again to his little act. This time, however, it didn’t work. The people have tired of it. Instead of applauding the maestro of campaigning, we asked him to lead us and solve the recession. We should not be surprised when all he’s done is to reprise his little one-act. We should have known.

Having learned the lesson, we will rebound, so keep the faith! Lotsa luck.

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