Keller @ Large: The Looming Disaster Of Government, Trust & The Debt Ceiling

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Editor

BOSTON (CBS) – In one of the more dismaying exchanges in a day filled with them, President Obama was asked yesterday by Chip Reid of CBS News about the horrific credibility problem of the ruling class in Washington.
Reid noted the finding of the latest CBS News poll that only one in four Americans felt the president should raise the debt limit to avert economic meltdown. Nearly 70 percent opposed taking action.

Asked Reid, “Isn’t the problem that you and others have failed to convince the American people that we have a crisis here, and how are you going to change that?”

After suggesting the public really wasn’t paying close enough attention, the president said: “This is not something that I am making up.”

Listen to Keller @ Large

How reassuring! And the scary part is, he’s right.

Speaker Boehner, John McCain, pretty much every responsible adult on either side of the aisle acknowledges we need to take action to cover our debts and avoid severe economic fallout from failure to do so.
So why are three out of four Americans not buying it? Call them clueless if you want, but I have another interpretation — baby boomer political leadership has totally blown it, and the chickens are coming home to roost.

Watch Keller @ Large

The generation that controls our political culture has for years now been so polarized, so dogmatic in its political biases, so smug and disdainful of the notion that they don’t have a patent on the truth, that they’ve poisoned the well when it comes time to dope out a solution that’s not ideologically pure in any direction.
The right has nurtured the false notion that taxes are always bad — the left has been dining out for years on the fantasy that the public’s wallet is a bottomless pit.

Are people clueless? I don’t think so. We know both parties have been fiscally irresponsible, have failed to confront basic problems, have pandered and spun themselves into a corner. And we’re disgusted and distrustful as a result.

And I wonder — why should that come as a surprise to anyone?

More from Jon Keller
  • Willow

    Maybe it’s just that the American people are sick of our country having a debt that can never be paid off, never mind even having enough money to make payments. When does it end? If Americans managed their households in the same way, how much trouble would we all be in? Like many others, I don’t think the government is focusing on paying OFF the debt, only keeping up with it, and worrying about the rest of it later

  • tsal

    I believe we can pay the debt. We paid it after the depression and we can pay it now. It’s how we pay it that seriously concerns me. I think that there is an outreach of far left and far right media that bombards the average American with information that is nothing more than rhetoric. It’s a different age where people get information from social media and blogs and forget that a great deal is opinion based and not fact based.

    Much of the information coming from both extremes is also tinged with conspiracy based theories and the “sky is going to fall” type theories. It’s overwhelming.

    I agree Jon that government is NOT selling itself. One perfect example is the fact that Obama was elected on the basis of bringing healthcare reform to our country. I know that the republicans worked tirelessly to destroy his efforts but he also did not sell the plan to the people. In order to actually know what the plan entails, you have to do extensive research and reading. Most are not willing (although they should be) to do that so will once again believe the rhetoric.

    • poetsareangels

      All things can be fixed if the right kind of thinking goes into fixing them. Taking Social Security away from those of us who worked for years to put money into the system so that it would be there for us in our time of need, whether it be because we are older, but wiser, or disabled and no longer able to work, we put our time in, and your not making sure that our money is there for us is just like going into a bank and robbing it. There are a great number of strong, intillectual minds working on this issue. I see no reason why all of those minds can’t find a way to make things work for everyone! We always have money to give to everyone when disaster strikes. Think of this as a disaster.

  • Willow

    I agree that there would be a chance to pay off our debt, but only if congress could work together to reach a solution, instead of both parties fighting each other all the way about who is right about the best way to proceed. When people spend all their time arguing, nothing gets done. So, you have a continuous cycle of raising the debt ceiling so that government can continue to spend, or at least have enough money to pay on the interest of their debt. I guess I’m just not as optimistic about our country ever recovering from having more debt then they can possibly keep paid on time.

  • emom

    We are not that different in how we handle our own finances as does the government. Look at the foreclosure problems, unemployment, and how some people in general are unwilling to change their spending habits.. Just like our wonderful government… Bankruptcies are up, and unemployment is still high.. Hard times dictate we should be vigilant in how we handle our own financings , I know many that have done just That. I have continued to limit spending so as to maintain my finances. If I can do with out I will, If I want something well I will look for a sale, or go with out. Changing how you spend money is vital to survival. If only the government chose to do the same. If it meant food over a latte , food will win every time. Used car over brand new, Used. Sale verses full retail ,, SALE WINS EVERY TIME. I stay frugal as did my parents and so does my child. If it can wait , then its far better in the end. Like using coupons and discounts for food and other items … Do you think the government will buy that Stanley hammer on sale verses full retail price, of course not.. How about that simple toilet seat ,,, which must have the army or government stamp on it.. Gee what’s wrong with the one every one else buys… with out the logo or stamp… I find government spending to be extremely out of control, Those on Social Security benefits and Disability benefits have not received a raise in as many as 2 years, But all their costs have risen sharply and they chose to go with out , What is the government willing to go with out, their gas guzzling SUV’s , their expensive luncheons, Dinner parties at the expense of tax payers, expensive suits, are they willing to partially pay for their heath insurance instead of getting it almost for nothing. If we were able to compare APPLES TO ORANGES we would see a huge difference in how spending is out of control… But unless the government is willing to see it from a struggling families point of view , live like so many Americans are living right now , I seriously doubt the DEBT will ever be gone. When you live above your means, and spend as if it is BURNING A HOLE in your pocket, in the end you run the risk of being broke , So many have fell into that trap and are now trying to simply survive on meager ways… Just look at how the government has done,,, On the verge of going broke, if that happens what then,, will they apply for food stamps, assistance from the Tax payers, wouldn’t that be ironic…….. We would get the chose to DENY THEM FOR ASSISTANCE….

  • george hand

    Jon, Not exactly a comment but while listening to today’s piece on the cluelessness of various politicians (a primus inter pares in recent context: Yay!!!) it struck me that you are one of the few media figures who might be able to coax one side or the other into telling us who “The Wealthy” are relative to rates of taxation. In the absence of even the roughest sort of definitions of “wealthy”, any discussion of taxation of, say, “millionaires”, is simply rhetorical posturing. It flunks the Spinometer. Keller could possibly lean on such rhetoric, “at large”. :)

    • tsal

      Not sure exactly what you are asking. However, the figures for the top 0.1%, 1%, next 9% and bottom 90% of income earners comes from IRS earnings data. When it is inflation-adjusted, the top 1 percent of households grew more than 10 times faster than the bottom 90 percent for the middle part of this decade. I wouldn’t call that rhetoric; I’d call it ludicrous. The last time such a small share of income went to the top 1 percent of households and such a small share to the bottom 90 percent was in the 1920s. The connection is not imaginary.

      • BostonIrish

        Absolutely on the money, Tsal. We’re in the 2nd half of the double dip recession we’ve spoken about in the past. The wild card that is forcing such a stand-off is because of the fiscal policies of the Obama congress under Pelosi and the senate under Reid and the financial programs of Geithner and the Fed (all pushed by Obama). The bailout of Wall St. and QE1, QE2, and soon to be implemented QE3 (Bernanke brought it up yesterday) are also the responsibility of this administration. Clear to me to see why 3 out of 4 don’t want to listen to the policies of this current administration.

    • Jon Keller

      George…check out my recent interviews (archived on the web site) with two of the potential Democratic candidates for US Senate, Setti Warren & Alan Khazei, to see their answers when I asked them that very question.

  • LindaMary

    We all have to take a hit in the pocketbook, rich,poor,retirees, young families, everybody. Taxes have to be raised, not just on the rich (because the most perfect fixing of waste in govt still won’t pay the bill), and cuts have to be made across the board. Most Americans can’t accept this and the politicians know it, so they won’t give an inch, especially with elections coming up.

    • BostonIrish

      I disagree, LindaMary. I already pay a pantload of taxes. I pay ridiculous amounts. I don’t owe anybody any more. Overspending, excessive entitlements, corporate tax breaks, government perks with salaries, medical coverage, pensions, come on. Our government ignores us. We are the bank account. They set the budgets. They are the sharks. I have never expected anyone I elect to reach around my back and pull my wallet out to empty it for their own personal agendas.

      • LindaMary

        If you reap no benefits from ANY of the things you’ve listed, then you are the exception. But we elected the people who pass these laws, so who’s to blame? We all wanted our piece of the pie. Everyone gets something from these benefits – you drive on the roads, don’t you? If you want to change things, run for office. It costs beaucoup dollars to do that – sounds like you might have enough…

  • tsal

    Interesting discussion and there are parts to what everyone says that I agree with. However, if the government keeps taking from the middle class that can no longer afford anything then the middle class will continue to hoard. As long as it hoards we cannot recover. Job creation is a key – one of the largest. BostonIrish, if you are paying the taxes you say then you are also one of the limited few who has also gained the lions share in income increase in the past decade. Time to pay it back. Everyone else has been paying the entire time. One group cannot nor should not remain exempt.

  • Willow

    Who can blame people for hoarding. Start stuffing your mattresses seniors, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    • tsal

      absolutely true – as long as the GOP continues to focus on taking from the elderly and the average American it will be a ride that many of us will not survive. The sad part is that the average American is the foundation of this country. The wealthy feel they are beyond reach but once a foundation crumbles the roof collapses very quickly.

  • tsal

    For those who believe the wealthy pay too much in taxes, you might find what Gates and Buffet have to say.

    • Willow

      I guess you could say that it’s coming right from the horses mouth.

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