Even for someone who studies government for a living, the debt ceiling debate has become difficult to take.
University of Nebraska political science professor John Hibbing says he has to force himself to keep up with the ongoing debate in Washington.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult. I mean, I just sometimes don’t have the stomach for it. And I think like a lot of Americans, I see a story about it and I say, ‘Boy, I just don’t want to read about them wallowing in the gutter again,’” Hibbing tells Drive-Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “But, I guess we have to take our medicine.”
Hibbing says he has been more disappointed than surprised by the developments in Washington. He says the debate is an important discussion about the role of government in American society.
The failure of the grand compromise disappointed Hibbing. He says he had high hopes that the debate might produce budget cuts and tax increases that would place the nation on sound financial footing.
“I was just a little bit hopeful that that would happen, but now we’ve just reduced ourselves to a few modest budget cuts and arguing about the timing of when the next debt ceiling vote’s going to be,” according to Hibbing. “I mean, I think that’s just incredibly disappointing.”
At one point, discussion centered on a proposal to make $3 trillion in cuts, some even to programs such as Medicare, and raise taxes by $1 trillion dollars. Then, a proposal offered by the Gang of Six proposed deep budget cuts and a revision of the tax code expected to generate $1 trillion in additional revenue. Both have been scrapped as Washington considers much less ambitious proposals with the August 2nd deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion national borrowing limit closing fast.
Hibbing says the public cannot escape some of the blame.
“We keep seeing these polls that the American public is very serious about reducing the deficit. Well, that’s good, but then they absolutely oppose tax increases and they oppose any reduction in entitlement spending,” Hibbing says. “And that’s just completely unrealistic.”