EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 14, 2013

Letter: We're borrowing our way to oblivion

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

There are two connected initiatives trumpeted by fiscally conservative members of the Republican Party that are crucial to our future. They are support for both budget balancing and other overdue moves to address our addiction to borrowing, along with that addiction’s handmaiden, the ever-increasing debt limit. Unfortunately the politicians have not exhibited a principled spine where either suggestion is concerned.

The drill is monotonous. Politicians howl about spending beyond our means and borrowing more. The president unleashes his lackeys in the media while using his ready access to national coverage to berate congressional Republicans. After the lackeys and their leader have led the populace to the door of submission, polls are taken. When the politicians see that the predictable polls line up against them, they acquiesce, retreating from what was originally presented as an insistence that had both gravitas and traction.

The regrettable truth is that neither of the parties presiding over our nation’s decline is sufficiently interested in reversing the trend. Our elected politicians have neither Truman’s referenced ability to withstand the heat, nor anything remotely close to Lincoln’s wisdom. They are hacks, loyal to themselves and their cronies.

This conclusion does not come without some doubt, especially the discomfort that comes from what appears to be strongly suggested by the (brainy) powers that be.

Doubt sparks inquiry. The main question is: How is it that the president of the United States cannot see how dangerous his penchants for profligate spending and unconscionable borrowing are to the strength of America? The answer could be that his excesses do not reflect Barack Obama’s prescription, but that of his closest fiscal advisers.

Barack Obama has in his corner something called “The Presidential Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).” This body consists of 20-30 staff economists and three “members.” It is the three members whose voices are strongest and most influential. They are Jason Furman, chairman of the CEA, James Stock and Betsey Stevenson. Furman has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, as does Stevens. Stock is currently on leave from his position as a professor of economics at Harvard University, where he has taught for 28 of the past 30 years.

Unless the CEA operates as Obama’s media toadies do, providing him only what he has made clear he wants, one can assume that the economic wisdom of what many see as Barack Obama’s monetary recklessness has been advanced by the CEA. And their approval contains an imprimatur from the graduate school of economics at Harvard University. Who can argue with that?

And would anyone else appreciate an explanation in layman’s terms as to how overspending and indebtedness to countries such as Russia, China and Brazil are good things?

Perhaps we are not headed for the same debt-driven precipice Greece and other European countries, as well as many African nations, have approached or tumbled over. Given the insulated wisdom of Harvard savants, maybe we just need to borrow more and with greater rapidity in order to resurrect our nation’s economy.

Barry McCloskey