This article was originally published on Humorality, on October 27, 2008.
Washington wallet crisis
The recent bailout of several major financial institutions by the United States government has raised concerns of a “credit crisis” in America. Borrowing money has certainly become a favorite pastime, with the US government alone in hock for over ten billion dollars. And with the average American owing more than $8,000 in credit card debt, paying everything back is going to take a while.
Fortunately, there are companies that can help reign in debt. That’s why, after hearing a commercial on the radio, President George W. Bush made a call to (555) BIG-DEBT, the number for the Big Debt Credit Counseling Service. Bush, along with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, members of the House Ways and Means Committee, and members of the Senate Budget Committee, met for four hours on Thursday with John Little, a senior counselor with Big Debt.
Henry Paulson, still under scrutiny for his handling of the federal budget, was pleased. “I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of calling them before,” Paulson said during a post-meeting press conference. “Big Debt told us about secret programs that credit card companies and banks don’t want you to know about. We were able to cut 200 billion in credit card debt right off the top. And with easy monthly terms, and an equivalent increase in middle-class taxes, we’ll have the full debt paid off ten years sooner.”
Despite the seemingly good news, some politicos found room for doubt. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) liked the Big Debt program, and the associated tax increase, but had a few caveats. “Reducing the national debt is important, but not at the expense of important federal programs like the National Helium Reserve. Putting blimp owners at risk in a time of national crisis is an unacceptable side effect of budgetary self-control.” Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan also expressed caution.
On the campaign trail, John McCain sounded upbeat about the move by the Bush administration. “I’m glad to see some straight talk coming out of Washington for once. When I bought my fifth, no wait, my sixth house, I decided right there and then that I would pay off the first three before I bought a seventh. It’s time for senators to pledge to do the same with the federal budget.”
Senator Barack Obama, however, saw the move as another political tactic. “This is nothing more than a Republican tax cut for the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, hard-working middle-class nations are barely scraping by. This is not the type of change that the citizens of the world are looking for, a change with no hope.”
Despite the partisan animosity, Big Debt’s John Little saw much to be optimistic about. “We’ve had a difficult time convincing lawmakers and other elected and appointed officials of the need to stay on a budget, but they are starting to listen. We tell ordinary citizens that increases in borrowing or spending will never save them from their problems. It’s simply common sense. Teaching common sense to the government hasn’t been easy.”
President Bush hopes to see some real changes enacted before the next president takes office in January. “This debt reductionization program is a step in the right direction, although there is still the issue of Big Debt’s fee. I wonder if they take American Express.”