The Real Crisis Is Not The Government Shutdown
By Paul Craig Roberts
October 03, 2013 “Information Clearing House – The inability of the media and politicians to focus on the real issues never ceases to amaze.
The real crisis is not the “debt ceiling crisis.” The government shutdown is merely a result of the Republicans using the debt limit ceiling to attempt to block the implementation of Obamacare. If the shutdown persists and becomes a problem, Obama has enough power under the various “war on terror” rulings to declare a national emergency and raise the debt ceiling by executive order. An executive branch that has the power to inter citizens indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law, can certainly set aside a ceiling on debt that jeopardizes the government.
The real crisis is that jobs offshoring by US corporations has permanently lowered US tax revenues by shifting what would have been consumer income, US GDP, and tax base to China, India, and other countries where wages and the cost of living are relatively low. On the spending side, twelve years of wars have inflated annual expenditures. The consequence is a wide deficit gap between revenues and expenditures.
Under the present circumstances, the deficit is too large to be closed. The Federal Reserve covers the deficit by printing $1,000 billion annually with which to purchase Treasury debt and mortgage-backed financial instruments. The use of the printing press on such a large scale undermines the US dollar’s role as reserve currency, the basis for US power. Raising the debt limit simply allows the real crisis to continue. More money will be printed with which to purchase more new debt issues needed to close the gap between revenues and expenditures.
The supply of dollars or dollar denominated assets in foreign hands is vast. (The Social Security system’s large surplus accumulated over a quarter century was borrowed by the Treasury and spent. In its place are non-marketable Treasury IOUs. Consequently, Social Security is one of the largest creditors to the US government.)
If foreigners lose confidence in the dollar, the drop in the dollar’s exchange value would mean high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s loss of control over interest rates. It is possible that a drop in the dollar’s exchange value could initiate hyperinflation in the US.
The real crisis is the absence of intelligence among economists and policymakers who told us for 20 years not to worry about the offshoring of US jobs, because we were going to have a “New Economy” with better jobs.
As I report each month, not a single one of these “New Economy” jobs has appeared in the payroll jobs statistics or in the Labor Department’s projections of future jobs. Economists and policymakers simply gave away a good chunk of the US economy in order to enhance corporate profits. One result has been to create in the US the worst distribution of income of all developed countries and of many undeveloped ones.
In the scheme of things, the enhanced profits are a short-run thing, because by halting the growth in consumer income, jobs offshoring has destroyed the US consumer market. As I noted in a recent column, on September 19 the New York Times reported what I have reported for years: that US median family income has not increased for a quarter of a century. The lack of consumer income growth is why 5 years of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus have not brought economic recovery.
The real crisis cannot be addressed unless the jobs are brought back home and the wars are stopped. As powerful organized interests oppose any such measures, Congress will pass a new debt ceiling and the real crisis will continue.