Posted by: morgan1965 | July 24, 2011

The U.S Debt Ceiling And Common Ground

The battle over raising or not raising the nation’s debt ceiling continues to rage in Washington DC. The voluminous rhetoric seems not able to achieve any resolution to the debate. There appears that today (Sunday, July 24, 2011) there is a stalemate between the Democrats and the Republicans. News reports indicate that the Republicans will not budge from their budget position; neither will the Democrats budge from their budget position. This debate has to do with the debt ceiling, revenues and drastic budgetary cuts.

One news article reported that the debate “veered between bipartisanship and brinksmanship on an issue of economic consequences.” The U.S. Treasurer says that unless there is congressional action by August 2, the Treasury will not be able to pay all of its bills. Failure to pay our bills would constitute a default with potential catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy. Such a result would affect not only the U.S. economy but the world economy also.

CNN anchor Candy Crawley made a statement today on her program, “State of the Union,” that caught my attention. She said something like this: “It is difficult to find common ground when no one will budge.”

How can people resolve their differences when all parties in the debate will not budge? Ultimately, this debate has to do with the U.S. budget, and the manner in which the nation overspends its budget. In other words, the expenditures exceed the revenue. A budget of course has to do with a “list of planned expenditures.” This list of expenditures is accompanied by a forecast of revenues. It also has to do with debt ceiling, because our expenditures exceed our revenues in the U.S. We do not have a balanced budget.

It is possible to solve this dilemma, but the principle players will not budge from their posture on these serious budget matters. To budge means to shift or change one’s position or attitude.

From a theological perspective, I believe that the answer to the impasse around the debt ceiling and a balanced budget is to be found on common ground. What is the common ground and what does it look like?

Let me suggest that this common ground can be described as holy ground. It is characterized by an attitude that recognizes that God is our creator and we are “one nation under God.” Moses was able to accept and to do God’s will once he realized and accepted the reality that he was standing on “holy ground.” There are three biblical references that help to shape the character of holy ground.

First, the Book of Micah is a witness to God’s activity in the world. Micah says: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” [Micah 6:8] Are we willing to do this as a nation? What about our Congress; are they willing to do this?

Second, the prophet, Jeremiah, helps us to understand God’s care for all of creation. Consider these words: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not harm, to give you a future with hope” [Jeremiah 29:11]. Can we help God in painting this future with hope?

Third, Jesus cared about the welfare of all people. One day a lawyer asked him about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Prompted by Jesus, the lawyer answered his own question: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” [Luke 1027]. Jesus told him to do what he had just said. When this same lawyer queried Jesus about who was his neighbor, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus clearly stated that we are to show mercy at all times to all people, especially those who are in need of a helping hand.

Common ground is characterized also by people who budge, and budgets that care about all the people.

Think about it!


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