Debt Deal Is Not About Who Won and Lost
The only ones who really lose are the jobless. For the rest of us, it's about tough choices, says Michael Steele.
President Obama is signing into law the work of our esteemed legislators -- calling for a series of cuts and caps amounting to $2.4 trillion, a 12-member congressional committee (not another one) to identify more cuts, entitlement reforms and tax changes by the end of this year, and a vote (at some point) on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. And thus our nation's debt limit is being raised -- in two stages.
This means that more tough choices lie ahead, but that hasn't stopped some around town from making grand declarations about what this all means and announcing with great bravado the "winners and losers." (This is Washington's way of patting some on the back and slapping others on the butt.) But the only losers I see in this mess have been the American workers who are still unemployed.
In every crisis, there is opportunity; and in every opportunity there is the recognition that we the American people are at our strongest when we are free to pursue those opportunities and to shape our destinies. Our current financial and economic crisis dictates that every American should concern him- or herself with preserving our freedoms: freedom to invest as we see fit; freedom to save to the best of our abilities; freedom to spend within our means for ourselves and the greater good; and most of all, freedom to express what we want -- indeed, demand -- from our government. As President Ronald Reagan once warned, "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day."
That struggle, along with the choices we still have to make, will determine the safety of our nation and its citizens, our prospects for continued and enhanced economic prosperity, our relations with other nations and perhaps the very fate of our planet.
But first, let's pay our bills.
Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and was the lieutenant governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007. He is a contributing editor to The Root.