Commentary: Refusing to Pay the Bills is Not a Path to Financial Reform

Yahoo Contributor Network

As Barack Obama and some GOP lawmakers argue over the debt ceiling and the Affordable Care Act, Yahoo asked Americans how the battle in Washington is affecting them. Here's one perspective.

COMMENTARY | We'll, they're at it again. Congressional Republicans are threatening to shut down the government in October rather than raise the debt ceiling. In return, President Obama has vowed not to give in to their attempt at extorting an outcome they cannot win honestly with a vote.

The last standoff resulted in the sequester, a slash-and-burn approach to budgeting that has hit my family especially hard because my husband is a federal employee. Technically he hasn't taken a pay cut, but he has lost a significant amount of bonus money, which is ultimately the same thing. He was also forced to take three unpaid furlough days in July and August, which further reduced his income. His employer was going to furlough him again in September, but instead they withheld bonus money. So far this year, we've lost more than $1,500 to sequester cuts.

House Republicans want to subvert the lawmaking process by holding the good name of the United States hostage and demanding a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling. You'd think I'd be in favor of reversing Obamacare if it meant a possible end to the sequester, but you'd be wrong. I'm lucky. My husband has insurance at his job, so the ACA isn't the life line for me that it will be for many self-employed and under-employed workers.

The thing is, I know a lot of those people -- the ones who don't take their kid to the doctor unless there's an emergency and don't go themselves no matter what. At some point, we all have to stop looking at the important issues of our time from our narrow, personal vantage point, and decide what we really believe is right. I think health care for all is right.

I also believe it's right to pay your bills, and I'm embarrassed for this country that we have leaders who think it might be OK not to. Historian Joseph Thorndike put it best when he opined that this debate is not about "cutting up your credit cards. It's like cutting up your credit card bills." The decisions to spend this money were made long ago, and now some congressional members are refusing to pay the tab.

Is this fiscal responsibility? I owe a lot of money myself right now because of a failed business venture, but instead of pulling a Donald Trump and filing for bankruptcy, I'm taking care of my financial commitments. I'd rather drive an older car and do without, than stiff the financial institutions that trusted me to borrow money.

Our government should do the same. Don't want to go further into debt? Stop passing deficit budgets. It's too late to stand up and say no when you've had your dinner and the check arrives.

Kim Jacobs Walker, 48, is a small-business owner and freelance writer from Austin, Texas. She is married with two teenage sons.

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