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Finneran: A Drunken Nation

Friday, February 16, 2018


America just blew a .35 on the nation’s fiscal breathalyzer.

The country is a legless drunk, singing boisterous barroom songs with fellow legless drunks.

Can some sober adult please show up and declare closing time?

Three Presidents in a row have flunked the grown-up test of fiscal sobriety. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump are slovenly failures when judged by their own words. And Congress is not much better. In fact, Congress is an active accomplice in hosting the eternal happy hour.

It appears that our “leaders”, so-called, are intent on avoiding any semblance of leadership. Thus the non-stop party.

It’s a curious party, akin to an Alice-in-Wonderland tale. No one at the party is asked to pick up the tab. The bill is simply left on the table, to be paid sometime in the future by “others”. Nor are there any head-pounding hangovers for those in the throes of spending what we don’t have. The hangovers are also passed on to “others”.

Those “others” of course are our children and grandchildren. And our professed love for them is a sham. We are leaving them with an enormous pile of debt along with an embarrassing example of reckless leadership.

Two recent events illuminate the degraded scene. As the curtain opens we note a multi-trillion dollar national debt, much of it due to the fiscal foolishness of Bush the younger and Obama the poet professor. Neither one should ever have been let near the nation’s checkbook.

Enter Donald Trump, the purported private sector titan who was to show the D.C. swamp creatures the error of their ways. What does he propose as the cure for drunken spending and ballooning deficits? Why a tax cut of course. It’s standard operating procedure when you’re dead broke to make yourself even poorer right? If I don’t have enough money coming in to support my lavish unsustainable lifestyle, then it makes sense for me to take in even less money, right? Right?

Look, I understand the attraction of tax cuts. I enjoy having extra money in my pocket. We all do. And there’s an argument to be made for goosing the economy and stimulating growth at certain points in the economic cycle. There’s also an argument to be made about screwing with your children’s futures and locking them into a political debtors’ prison.

Trump might have been the honest broker on this accumulating mess if he had pushed for spending cuts on an equivalent scale. But lo and behold, the private sector wizard embraced a spending spree instead. Forget basic finance and economics. Did any of these three Presidents pass first-grade math? Can they add and subtract? Would you put them in charge of a shoeshine stand?

The national debt now approaches twenty trillion dollars. We’re bingeing away our credit. We are bingeing away our credibility. We are bingeing away our children’s futures. Both parties and the last three Presidents should be ashamed. The citizens they purport to represent pay their bills and live within their means. Those citizens would not fight wars on a credit card. They would not spend what they do not have. They would not take in less and spend more. They would not ruin their children’s dreams. And sadly, such citizens will not be President any day soon.

Apparently it takes a certain Ivy League gumption---Yale, Harvard, and Penn being the alma maters of Bush, Obama, and Trump---to pretend a possession of common sense. As for me, I’d take any mother and housewife from the mid-West to shout “last call” and to end the national nonsense. It’s time to sober up.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio


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