Nothing Like It Before

The Battle over the Debt

Rating: 4.00

The desperate battle over the debt ceiling has me thinking that something is terribly wrong in Washington.

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Chuck  Colson

I’m almost scared to admit it, but I’ve been involved in or fascinated by politics for more than 50 years. I worked in politics and on campaigns, first as a Senate assistant than as special counsel to the President Nixon.

Even after I left government, I advised, observed, and prayed with players on both sides of the aisle. In all humility, I’ve fancied myself a keen observer of politics.

But in all these years, I’ve never seen the kind of chaos, recalcitrance, and perhaps downright obstructionism that I’m witnessing in the battle over the budget and the debt ceiling.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been in a lot of tough, even nasty political battles. But almost every time — for example during the tough negotiations over the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty back in the early 70s — agreements were reached when both parties put the national good over ideology. Even if it took, as I remember one time long before that, Lyndon Johnson, then majority leader, locking the parties in a room and telling them not to come out until a deal was reached. And they stayed there until they did reach a deal.

But that isn’t happening now. And I find it both bewildering and alarming.

I cannot explain the behavior of either side. It’s bordering on the irrational. Deals are crafted, and then one side or the other pulls the plug. Commissions formed, recommendations made, all rejected. Those who understand that politics always involves some sort of compromise are hammered down mercilessly by their political base.

What is going on? I can only think of three possibilities. None of them are good. First, is ideological madness. Both sides held captive by a political ideology that won’t let them settle for anything short of total victory. If that’s the case, the system may be badly broken.

Second — and please God, I hope this isn’t the case — that one or both sides is bound and determined to bring about a real crisis: whether to destroy a presidency or as some sort of power grab. Both sides ought to remember that getting into a crisis is easy, getting out is another thing altogether.

The third possibility, I hesitate to even mention it because it seems so far fetched but I can’t rule it out, could it be that some outside political or financial interests are deliberately herding our leaders into a train wreck? Who would benefit if the dollar crashes or the world loses faith in the U.S. financial system?

As I will talk about more tomorrow, what we’re witnessing is the inevitable result of a toxic and complicated mix of false worldviews that has been brewing for a generation. Our society has jettisoned the belief in moral truth and absolutes and we have grasped at man-made answers and ideologies; whether it’s angry anti-government sentiment on the far right or the sacredness of entitlements on the left, or any host of other political pathologies.

So, what do we do as Christians? What we have always done. Pray for our leaders, speak the truth in love, and demand that Congress and the president do the right thing by the country, even if it costs them their jobs.

And today on my Two Minute Warning, I will talk of another disturbing product of the rejection of the Christian worldview: Corruption. You won’t want to miss it. You can watch it today at Colson Center.org.

Further Reading and Information

Wake Up and Smell the Corruption!
Chuck Colson | Two-Minute Warning | July 27, 2011


Chuck, why aren't you looking at what the Scriptures says about it??
fourth reason
I would like to offer a fourth possible reason for the current budget battle: Both sides believe, with all their hearts, that they are right. When a man truly believes in something, he will take action -- whether he is right or wrong doesn't matter to him as long as his actions are in line with what he believes. Now, it is always right to take a stand when your stand is right, but, being an old cowboy, I can assure you that the better part of handling cattle is knowing when to jump up on the fence. The thing that worries me is that this concept of being right at all cost, I suspect., is part of the reasoning behind The War Between The States. These sort of things brew for a long time, even under the soothing balm of compromise, before they finally fester up and rupture. I pray that when we have to bite the bullet it will not have been shot out of a rifle.
Debt ceiling
I think that proposals on both sides of this fight fall far short. Running a balanced budged is a basic requirement of government, and 5- or 10-year "balanced budget" plans are essentially meaningless. The only budget plan that really ever matters is the upcoming year's budget. We need someone with a serious proposal to balance the budget beginning with the 2012 budget year (which starts Oct 1 of this year). If they can't balance the 2012 budget, what makes them think it will be any easier in a future year? My worst fear is a meaningless compromise that allows these guys to continue reaching for the national credit card and adding to our ridiculous heap of debt. The only reason for raising the debt ceiling (beyond that required to get from Aug 2 to Oct 1) is that our politicians still refuse to face reality and balance our budget, and it is time for this to end. Enough is enough.
Nothing Like It Before
Rarely does this happen, but the reasons given for the lack of compromise miss some key components. Much of the compromise of the past has served only to lower the bar of morality and freedom. Recent history is cluttered with the results of compromise, i.e.,Reagan compromising to raise taxes with the promise that spending would be cut, which never happened.

Now much of the public is awake to the fact that through compromise in spending and social engineering (Community Reinvestment Act) we have been led to the financial precipice and if spending isn't drastically cut, disaster is inevitable.