Glancing back, one cannot help but be struck by certain similarities between the role of party politics in the run-up to the crisis of 1812-14 and the present partisan strife over government tax policy, budgetary priorities, and the national debt.
In the arc of history, the contemporary discord about the proper balance of government spending, borrowing and taxation has an air of déjà vu. The 112th Congress put in jeopardy, at one point, the financial full faith and credit of the United States. The debacle was narrowly averted by a crude statutory contrivance, cobbled together at the eleventh hour. “Our country is not going to default for the first time in history,” the Senate minority leader was able to declare. But America came dangerously close, and if it had happened, it actually would have been the second time — the first having occurred in 1814, at the hands of the 13th Congress, which had been comparably conflicted about raising the requisite revenue to cover the nation’s unsustainable bills.
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