“Our founding fathers understood that [private property] was a very important part of the pursuit of happiness. Being able to own things that are your own is one of the things that makes America unique. But I happen to think that it’s in jeopardy. It’s in jeopardy because of taxes; it’s in jeopardy because of regulation; it’s in jeopardy because of a legal system that’s run amok. And I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, ‘God, You’re going to have to fix this.’ ” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The negotiations had been ongoing for weeks. America was near to purposefully defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. But the leaders of the two parties couldn’t quite get to a deal. Finally, one of the GOP’s presidential hopefuls stood up. “God is going to have to fix this,” he said.
The White House team looked at him skeptically. “If we can’t come to a deal before August 2nd,” they said, “why don’t we just raise the debt ceiling with a clean bill and then continue with negotiations to reduce the deficit?” There was silence for a minute as everyone in the room considered this. “No,” replied the presidential aspirant who wanted to win over social conservatives in Iowa. “The Lord will save us.”
Two days later, Moody’s threatened to downgrade not only the United States’s credit rating, but the ratings on 7,000 associated municipal bonds, and perhaps many more than that. “We’ll offer you a deal,” said the desperate White House negotiators. “You’ve wanted to raise the Medicare eligibility age forever. You want cuts to Social Security. You want cuts to domestic discretionary spending. We’ll give you all of that, and more, and we’ll ask for less than half as many taxes as the bipartisan fiscal commission did, and we’ll even let you figure out which taxes those will be through a future tax reform effort. Let’s just get this done.”
The room was silent for a moment. “No,” the ambitious politician said. “There can’t be more revenues, which means there can’t be a deal. God is going to have to fix this.” He suggested that they pray. Out of ideas, they did.
The next morning, Ben Bernanke warned the Congress that default would be “calamitous.” Standard & Poor’s said there was a chance that they’d downgrade the United States’s credit rating before the end of July. Independent experts looked at what would happen if the government had to prioritize and found it would almost certainly lead to a recession. China began asking that we “guarantee investor interests.” Again, some in the room begged for a deal. Again, the devout politician argued that the deadlock was beyond mortal means to solve.
One week later, the market bottomed out. The Dow dropped by 1,000 points. Interest rates skyrocketed. The indicators for employment and GDP growth turned south. Word leaked of the Republican negotiator’s repeated requests to let God handle the debt ceiling. The public turned on him, and the stress of that rejected led to a massive, and tragically fatal, heart attack.
Upon arriving in heaven, the man marched straight over to God. “Heavenly Father,” he said, “I had faith in you, I prayed to you to save us, and yet you did nothing. Why?” God gave him a puzzled look, and replied “I gave you the option to raise the debt ceiling clean, convinced the other side to give you almost everything you had ever asked for in the past, and sent everyone I could think of to warn you about what would happen if you kept refusing to come to a deal. What more did you expect?”
(Apologies, of course, to this old joke.)