The Government Shutdown

OK, so I’ve tried to remain neutral thus far because I realize that many of you are from “both sides of the isle.”  I will still attempt to remain in the middle so I can see both sides, and I welcome your comments.  After all, that’s what compromise is all about.  Right?

My wife Gina and I were in the kitchen the other morning and she was making Crêpes because well, that’s what our daughter wanted for breakfast (she’s 13 and a freshman in High School).  What does this have to do with the Government’s issues you ask?  Well it has to do with compromise and being willing to learn something new.  And also being willing to see the others side, or understanding their point of view.

You see, from my point of view, I am a trained Chef (bet you didn’t know that) and have run a restaurant, and made Crêpes from scratch so I know how to make them.  I asked her if she would like my advice and she promptly replied NO!   I naturally got upset.  How could someone not want to learn something new if it was possible?  Why wouldn’t you take a chance that someone else might have a better way.  After all that’s how I learned how to make Crêpes in Culinary school.

So I thought about it for a while and realized that she just wanted to make it “her” way without anyone telling her it was wrong.  This is totally her right (while I may still not understand the resistance to learn) she is entitled to it.  She made the Crêpes and they turned out great (a bit thick for Crêpes) but the bottom line was we enjoyed them and had a wonderful breakfast.  But I digress…  Now back to the story.

The basic reason our Government is currently shut down is because our politicians cannot agree on a balanced budget and we are spending way more than we’re taking in.  The republicans want some effort towards balancing the budget (deficit reduction through spending cuts) and President Obama says he will not negotiate just pass the budget anyway.

A balanced budget, (particularly that of a government), is a budget with revenues equal to expenditures, and neither a budget deficit nor a budget surplus.  This seems fairly obvious right?  To be fair, Dwight Eisenhower was the last Republican President to preside over a balanced budget.  He had a balanced budget in 1956 and 1957. Since then, there have been two presidents to preside over balanced budgets, LBJ in 1969 and Clinton in 1998 through 2001. During the last 40 years there have been five budget surpluses, all five were under Democratic Presidents: 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.  The National Debt in 2001 was approximately 5.7 Trillion Dollars and the budget was balanced?

In the last 12 years we have almost tripled the national debt through deficit spending.  Something that took over 250 years to build, we tripled in just 12 years.  So how long are we going to let this go on?  We are passing a debt on to our future generations that they cannot possibly repay.  What bothers me, and again please correct me if I’m wrong, is that we’ve seen this repeatedly over the past five years with no signs of change.  Our politicians can’t agree so the deficit keeps growing and they have to continually raise the debt ceiling (the maximum allowable government debt).  Every year President Obama has been in office, there have been deficits of $1 trillion — adding $7 TRILLION DOLLARS to the debt.  I just want to know what the plan is for paying it down/off (as in our credit cards).

Interestingly enough, in a February 23, 2009 blog post, after he was in office, President Obama promised that by the end of his first term, he would cut in half the massive federal deficit “we’ve inherited.”  And he said “we’ll do it in a new way: honestly and candidly.”  Obama did make that promise that day, saying, “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected.  But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay, and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”

Being fair to the current Obama administration the president in 2009 inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.  My question…  What happened?  I would question any President who made this promise and five years later not only didn’t fulfill the promise but made the situation worse.  And why are we not questioning this?  Where’s the Media on this one?

OK so back to the current shutdown; I understand the Republican point which is we need to cut spending and at least get back “on track” to balancing the budget.  But how do we do that?  It’s an interesting ploy… If you’re a Republican and you want to repeal “Obamacare” (which can’t be done under the current administration, another story) you delay its implementation for a year at which time we have a new election and possibly elect a Republican President who can the repeal the national healthcare law.  Also if you’re looking for a budget cut, you look for the biggest expense first right?

On the Democratic side we have a President who is standing by his belief that he “will not negotiate” and blames the Republicans for the whole mess.  While I understand his stance (after all they’re trying to derail his “legacy”), NOT willing to compromise not only goes against every campaign promise he made, but it simply is not politics. The Obama administration is betting that at some point, the GOP will understand that its position is futile. And while that’s a fairly big bet, the aides believe that all other options are flawed.

We also have another issue looming on the short term horizon; The National Debt has reached its limit and unless Congress votes to raise it again the Government will not be able to pay its bills namely interest payments on its Treasury Bonds effectively defaulting on debt.  The republicans are attempting to use this to get the democrats to reduce spending.  In fact, the Democrats of the 1980s repeatedly used the debt ceiling issue to force President Reagan not to increase defense spending.  And Obama himself used the issue of the debt ceiling in his battle against President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.  In 2006, then-Sen. Obama stated in a floor speech in the senate; “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” “Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is  ‘trillion’ with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers.”

If we’re going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits.  According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress voted 53 times from 1978 to 2013 to change the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling has increased to almost $17 trillion from $752 billion. Of these 53 votes, 29 occurred in a Congress run by Democrats, 17 in a split Congress, and seven in a Republican-controlled Congress.

I’m not against Obama just to be against him.  I would feel this way if it were Republican or Democrat and they had mad promises and statements and then completely went the other way.  I have seen very little change in the last five years and the economy has grown by an anemic 2.0% during this time.  What is the current administration doing to rebuild the economy and create jobs other than throw money at it and hope?  You’ve no doubt heard the saying; “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.”  Well by this definition our politicians are insane.  When will it end?  Maybe the next election?


Bill Bartok

Mortgage Advisor

NMLS# 445991

5 comments on “The Government Shutdown

  1. Michael Leslie says:

    Could Bill please find a way to Washington and shed some sense to our elected representatives

  2. Mark Crusha says:

    Bill you have relayed this message very clearly without bias. This is a very well written piece and ultimately puts the onus on Obama to be accountable for his own words! Unfortunately he BS’d his way into the White house, BS’s his way into re-election and will no doubt BS his way out of the pile of crap created here. The American People are also to blame (both Republican and Democrats alike) as there are so many sheep that follow and believe rhetoric more than actual results! Talk is cheap, but not when Obama talks it costs Trillions every time he opens his mouth!

  3. […] last week which is not surprisingly appropriate for this week as well.  You can read it at  I will be posing a follow-up to this blog later today titled “The Government Shutdown Pt 2, […]

  4. […] “The Government Shutdown Pt 2, how/when will we get out of this mess.”  You can read it at  Not surprisingly my predictions were spot […]

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