I dozed off this evening watching television. As I slept, I dreamed the following:
It’s Monday night. The debt negotiations have collapsed. President Obama scheduled a prime time speech to tell the nation what he must do. I scribbled notes as fast as I could. Here’s what I think he said:
“My fellow Americans. It is my sad duty to report that the House of Representatives, having voted over many years to establish this vast enterprise we call the federal government, which touches each one of our lives, has under its new leadership decided not to pay for the programs it voted to create. I now must carry out my constitutional duties, which are twofold. I must honor the commitment that the United States government has made to millions of lenders here at home and abroad. And, I must carry out the programs that Congress has voted to create.
“Unfortunately, Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling means there is insufficient money to do both. Therefore, I must do the best I can with the resources at hand, while not violating the constitution.
“Therefore, next week, I have ordered the Social Security Administration to honor all commitments to the nation’s retirees. Over $2 trillion of the debts owed by the government are owed to the nation’s retirement system. That means there is sufficient money available to pay all Social Security beneficiaries simply by taking the bonds in the trust fund and selling them to the general public.
“Unfortunately, this is the only part of the federal government that is fully funded. So to reduce expenditures to our current level of revenues, which only cover about 70 percent of what we spend, I am immediately ordering every cabinet secretary to draw up a list of essential services. We will fund those first. Unfortunately, many services delivered by the federal government cannot be maintained at this level of revenue.
“Therefore, starting next Monday, the government will no longer be able to inspect all the imported food that enters this country. We will also be laying off a sufficient number of air traffic controllers to bring that budget into balance, cancelling about 30 percent of our flights. All student loans will stop. We will stop inspecting manufacturers of drugs and other critical medical products, since most of the Food and Drug Administration’s revenue comes from user fees that can only be used for approving new drugs and devices.”
(The president went on for about ten minutes in this vein. Then he returned to talking about Congress.)
“This House of Representatives has chosen a path that puts it radically at odds with every Congress of the past 100 years, whether it was led by Democrats or Republicans, no matter which party sat in the White House. A Democratic Congress raised the debt ceiling more than a dozen times under Republican President Ronald Reagan. Republican Congresses raised the debt ceiling under President Bill Clinton. Republican and Democratic Congresses raised the debt ceiling under my predecessor, President George W. Bush.
“Yet this House of Representatives has chosen a different path. It is the path of that marries rabid partisanship with economic know-nothingism. It is the path of nihilism. It is a false path, yet it has brought us to the current impasse.
“I will gladly return to the negotiating table to work out a long-term debt reduction deal along the lines suggested by the bi-partisan deficit commission. This proposal would make $3 in budget cuts for every $1 in increased revenue. It is a program of shared sacrifice, one that reflects the common sense of average Americans, and one that has been endorsed by Senators from both political parties. But time has run out. The only choice now is for Congress to send me a clean bill that raises the debt ceiling so those negotiations can begin.
“I am by law required to honor the obligations of the U.S. government, which were appropriated by Congress and signed into law by me and previous presidents. Even as I am distraught beyond words at the pain the irresponsible actions of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have brought on the American people, I must do my duty. Congress can still avoid this outcome by sending me a clean bill lifting the debt ceiling tomorrow. Otherwise, I must uphold the law. It is my constitutional duty. Under our constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House. If the House believes our government, including our young men and women who are in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, can operate at 70 percent of their previous funding level, then I must carry out its wishes.
“Good night, and God Bless America.”
I snapped awake. Was I dreaming? I couldn’t tell. I thought, “You called their bluff! Good for you Mr. President.”Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.