Yesterday morning, in response to my piece warning that the United States is staring downgrade in the face, my friend Cliff Barr emailed me. “I think we should all march on the Capitol in a couple of days...preferably with pitch forks and torches,” he wrote. By last night, in making the case for a balanced approach to reducing debt, President Obama called on the American people to “make your voice heard” to “let your member of Congress know” to “send that message.”
Almost immediately after the speeches by Obama and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Huffington Post reported that congressional websites were crashing. This morning on the Twitters, in addition to blasting out the main number for the Capitol, folks are sharing the phone numbers for Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). I hope they’re successful in sending a message that they want compromise, that they want action.
The legal limit on this nation’s borrowing must be increased. To do otherwise is to make America a deadbeat. The negative consequences would be inescapable. An unprecedented default would put the president in the untenable position of deciding whom to pay first with the limited cash on hand, creditors who demand their payments or seniors who need their checks. An unprecedented downgrade of the nation’s AAA bond rating would be a kick in the stomach of the American people and the economy, both of which are still struggling to recover from a recession that is technically over.
When Congress was voting on the health-care bill, Tea Partyers from across the country flooded the grounds of the Capitol. In a rowdy yet effective display of grassroots activism, they sent a message that they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Mad at what they saw as government overreach. Mad that their country and their way of life as they saw it was disappearing.
If a health-care bill could engender so much passion, so should the insanity of the last week that has pushed this nation to the edge of economic collapse. So, my friend Cliff is right. Folks should be marching on the Capitol. And they should demand their country back from ideologues whose inflexibility and willful ignorance of the facts are holding this nation hostage. While pitch forks aren’t necessary, your voices are. Now is the time to make yourself heard.