Debt Limit Games

By Jeffrey Page
Here’s a message for Obama and Boehner, for Cantor and Reid, for Pelosi and for all our local geniuses who are driving this debt limit issue to a brink that could be catastrophic on a grand scale and dangerous on a personal level.

It’s about your constituents. You remember us, right? You remember your last campaigns when you went out and swore that there was nothing – nothing! – more gratifying in the world than the privilege – privilege! – of representing us in Congress, of providing leadership in the White House.

Here’s another message: Control your blather. No one buys it. We don’t like being used as the little white balls in your never-ending game of partisan ping pong. If you believe you can get away with this brinksmanship on the debt limit, you should start checking the want ads. That privilege you treasure could be withdrawn in 17 months.

Listen, we’re the 60.1 million people receiving Social Security to the tune of $60 billion a month. Most of us don’t use that money for vacations in the south of France. It goes right into the economy to pay for groceries and gasoline, a movie ticket, the rent, a new tire for the car, the morning paper, taxes to keep things moving. Eventually, it is this spending that will rescue the economy.

Do you – Schumer, Gillibrand, Hayworth, Hinchey, the lot of you – understand this, or have your $174,000 congressional salaries and other personal wealth made you blind to what ordinary people must deal with every day as you play your political games. The fact is that your congressional pay is almost six times as much as the per capita income in New York. Fact is you don’t know much about us.

We’re also the 4.1 million veterans receiving $46 billion a year in various benefits for having served the nation. Much of that money goes into the economy as well.

And we’re the rest of the population, just plain sickened by what we see you doing.

Are you really going to watch the nation go into default, and watch your constituents miss a check or two all because you were too dumb to get off your butts and come to an understanding with the other side?

Every one of us who you represent understands what “compromise” means. Why can’t you? Or doesn’t it matter because you know that no matter what you do, no matter how much your people suffer, you’ll get your checks when we do not?

So here is what I want of you. Actually, here is what I am demanding of you as you posture and totter.

If Social Security and Veterans Administration checks fail to go out next week because you helped the nation run out of money, you must issue an immediate press release announcing that you will forego your salaries until we – the ones you go to for votes every few years – receive ours first.

Even later, when the crisis eases, you must not cash your paychecks for the periods when the government shut down. If you have an ounce of honor, you will endorse those checks and send them to Food Bank of the Hudson Valley (195 Hudson St., Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y. 12520).

To do less is to lose my vote.

Zest readers, do you agree?

Jeff can be reached at


6 Responses to “Debt Limit Games”

  1. r.c. taplin Says:


  2. Jeffrey Page Says:

    Thanks, R.C.

    Think it’s possible that one of these days, all voters are going to be as fed up with their usual affiliations as the Tea Partyers — whatever you think of them — had it up to here with the Republicans? See a time of all independent candidates?

    Best wishes,


  3. Duane Small Says:

    Why is it, when one side has offered to give up almost everything it believes in, and the other side has offered to give up nothing, everyone who writes about it blames both sides for not compromising?

  4. Jeffrey Page Says:

    Thanks Duane,

    Because in this case, failure to reach some form of compromise could result in disaster for the economy, for the nation, for the people who would be deprived of their SS and VA checks.

    We can talk about which side gave how much (or how little), but in the end wouldn’t you agree that both sides are on the verge of selling out old folks, children, veterans, public service workers, et al. So much for what each side believes in.

    Frankly, I think the Repubs and the Dems believe in one thing — the next election.


  5. Duane Small Says:

    I agree that not raising the debt limit is selling out all those you mention. So is cutting expenses so severely that you can’t repair bridges, protect the food supply, assist the unemployed, or do any number of other government functions. Lots of public service workers will lose their jobs under any of the policies still under consideration.

    I think you’re being overly cynical in thinking that politicians care nothing about such matters. Sure, they like being re-elected, and they’ll pander and play to the galleries when they feel threatened, but many of them also take hard votes when they think the policy they’re supporting or opposing really matters to the welfare of the country.

    And I think it’s fair to ask at what point a compromise is so bad that the consequences of a short period of government default would be better, in the long run, than the anticipated consequences (including setting a precedent for successful intransigence) of the compromise itself.

  6. Russ Layne Says:

    Write on, Jeff! You got my support when you run for Congress!


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