NEWS UPDATE: In 2011 it was hard to find an economist who gave the US any chance of surviving a major economic collapse in 2012, unless it made drastic spending cuts. The one bipartisan plan that most economists agreed would succeed was the Simpson-Bowles plan, authored by Republican Alan Simpson (former senator from Wyoming) and Democrat Erskine Bowles (former president Clinton’s chief of staff). Simpson and Bowles knew the urgency of their task. In February 2011 Simpson gave the US one year to survive without a comprehensive plan for spending cuts; Bowles gave it two years at the most. The two were co-chairs of President Obama’s own debt reduction panel. But both Obama and Congress rejected their plan. Instead, Obama made a deal with Congress to raise the debt ceiling and impose a future sequester— $85 billion across-the-board spending cuts due to start March 1, 2013. Such spending cuts were so arbitrary and draconian that they all knew they all would be forced to make a better deal before that time.
Well, two years later, that time has nearly arrived, and still no deal. The US faces sudden and massive layoffs and widespread national dysfunction; for instance, lack of firefighters, release of criminals, and 3-hour waits in airport security lines. And the only plausible bipartisan plan for spending cuts has been proposed by—Simpson and Bowles. Yes, they are back at the brink of Bowles’ own deadline with a similar plan. This Simpson-Bowles plan rewrites the tax code and mandates deep spending cuts in order to decrease the budget deficit by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years. It targets the costliest programs—Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, farm subsidies, the military and discretionary domestic spending. And it gives Congress until the end of 2013 to make spending cuts—which will have to be far more than $85 billion—and tax adjustments to meet these goals. (For a bigger picture of the US and world financial crisis, see our BPN Prayer Alert at http://belizeprayernetwork.com/2013/01/us-pushes-world-to-steeper-fiscal-cliff/). But at this point Congress still cannot agree on a basic debt-to-GDP ratio, let alone a comprehensive plan. The approaching sequestration looks like a chainsaw massacre. Instead, the US needs deep surgical cuts and a rigorous weight loss and exercise program. Let’s find a time to pray for God to show His way through this impasse.
A TIME TO PRAY: Father God, You are the Maker of the Universe and in You all things hold together. Some of the best human minds have seen the signs of the times and predicted economic collapse long before now. Yet You have answered prayer and held us back from the disastrous judgments that this nation deserves. The US is a colossus that produces 30% of the world’s goods and consumes 50% of them in many lustful and sinful ways. Yet you are daily performing economic miracles for the world because of Your awesome mercy. You have extended one grace period after another, giving us more time to change our ways. As Abraham did for Sodom, we ask for another extension of grace. Let us seek You and find Your way through this, and turn from our wicked ways so You will forgive and heal this land. Send forth waves of repentance, revival and righteousness across the US. Establish the plan for financial recovery that most pleases You. Set a course for Your kingdom economy to succeed where the world economy has failed. We thank You because only with You are all these things possible. In Jesus’ name, amen.
a time to pray: Simpson-Bowles, economic collapse, debt, spending cuts