Most reasonable people agree that a default would have a devastating effect on the country's economy as the world's other economies tried to puzzle out our motives and direction. Its effect on Missouri and St. Louis is clear: programs, including law enforcement and support for seniors, that depend on Federal funding would have been interrupted. Work on repairing the effects of the year's floods and tornadoes would have slowed. Confidence in our still-fragile economic recovery would have faltered. A Congressional agreement on raising the nation's debt ceiling to pay some of its bills forestalled that crisis. I credit the leaders of both political parties ' and, especially, the determined leadership of President Obama ' for getting as far as we have gotten.
Where are we? There is little to say about cutting $1 trillion of spending over the next decade that will immediately reassure the mayors of America's cities. Decades of federal policies that funded suburban sprawl were only partially balanced by block grants to address the many problems those policies caused. It is not clear to me that the consequent levels of domestic spending will leave enough investment in job-creation, public and higher education, and innovative research.
Over the next several months, an even more urgent discussion ' and debate ' will begin in Washington, in Jeff City, and here in St. Louis. In the name of "tax reform" and "entitlement reform," Americans will consider which breaks and deductions to ask the biggest corporations and wealthiest people to give back, and Americans will discuss what changes, if any, must be made to programs that currently support seniors, infants, and people with disabilities. My expectation is that those discussions will take place in a less dramatic (i.e, less ridiculous) context than that of the past several weeks and days. My hope is that the country ends up with a balanced budget that invests heavily in programs that create jobs and boost wages - and does not further undercut America's cities.