What about the "Gusher" in Washington, D.C.?


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A comparison of the U.S. Congress reaction to the BP oil spill vrs. the U.S. National debt: who's motivated to "plug this hole"?

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What about the "Gusher" in Washington, D.C.?

  1. 1. What about that “Gusher” in Washington, D.C.? By Tom Tierney 23 June 2010 The U.S. Congress brought BP CEO Tony Hayward in for a “dog and pony show” last week: Hayward knew nothing about anything when questioned during the BP hearings while the self righteous Congressional members knew everything about all things. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. The BP oil “gusher” could possibly spill 100,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico per day. This is definitely an environmental disaster and BP needs to clean it up and address all financial claims. However, there’s a bigger “gusher” that isn’t being addressed: the U.S. Congress presides over a national debt that has spilled and covered each taxpayer with over $118,000 of individual debt (and growing, for the real time numbers see www.usdebtclock.org, our national debt equivalent of the BP “spill cam”). Unlike the pelicans in Louisiana, there’s no simple cleanup for this financial disaster. When is the U.S. Congress going to turn its investigative eye toward our $13T debt? BP apparently took risks with their well and relied on a “blow out preventer”, a failsafe mechanism, to save their bacon (it didn’t work). Similarly, the U.S. Congress is taking risks with deficit spending, entitlements with unfunded liabilities we can’t afford and is, apparently, relying on future tax payers as their “blow out preventer”. Like BP’s “fail safe mechanism”, this too shall fail: see Greece’s financial problems as an example. When is the U.S. Congress going to address spending , liabilities and be honest with the U.S. taxpayer as to what the future will be if this isn’t addressed? They blame the BP CEO for ignoring risks and ultimately causing one of the world’s largest environmental disasters, when are they going to be equally introspective as to their culpability in creating, possibly, one of the world’s largest financial disasters? This problem can’t be solved by taxing businesses, it can’t be solved by taxing individuals, it has to be comprehensive and address current spending and past spending (liabilities). It has to be done in a way that doesn’t completely ruin the U.S. economic engine, but does share the burden across individuals and businesses both to tax policies and individual entitlements. Most importantly: there has to be some mechanism put in place to keep budgets balanced and future spending controlled, as a “blow out preventer” for the future. President Obama was famously quoted as wanting to “just plug the damn hole!” in reference to the BP spill. Well, he’s got a bigger gusher in his own backyard, is he equally motivated to plug this one? For business investors and citizens this is arguably the biggest problem we face, we keep ignoring it and kicking the can down the road for future generations. Our “national business” is facing bankruptcy, we are “gushing” debt over each citizen and no one seems motivated to “just plug the damn hole!”. Tom Tierney lives in Encinitas, CA and is a member of Tech Coast Angels (www.techcoastangels.com). Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tech_coast_angels for more background information on the TCA.