The Debt Deal and Guns


President Barack Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2011.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

With only hours to spare, Congress reached an agreement on the debt ceiling that was signed into law by President Obama.

Operating under the allegedly indisputable Aug. 2 deadline, party leaders rushed to throw a bill together that many of their colleagues, and as polls have indicated, much of the American public deemed unacceptable. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., went so far as to characterize the debt deal as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”

The debt ceiling agreement calls for the creation of a bipartisan joint committee that must produce a plan to save the federal government $1.5 trillion. Congress will not be allowed to filibuster or amend the legislation in any way. If the committee is unable to reach a compromise totaling a minimum of $1.2 trillion in savings, or if the bill fails to pass in both houses, automatic spending cuts will become effective in 2013.

In the wake of the debt debacle and ensuing chaos on Capitol Hill, Standard & Poor downgraded the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in our nation’s history. Financial markets have plunged in response.

The debt deal is a sign of things to come.

A recent Rasmussen poll, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters, found that 53 percent of Americans oppose the debt-reduction deal. An underwhelming 22 percent of respondents expressed approval for the bill, and an additional 26 percent weren’t sure of the outcome.

This legislation is evidence of the federal government’s disregard for the democratic modus operandi that once served as the foundation for American exceptionalism.

The maxim of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has become moot. Democracy is being sacrificed in the name of “compromise” among partisans to avoid further economic turmoil.

The debt ceiling agreement fails to include a provision that excludes matters aside from saving the federal government money from being included in the joint committee’s bill.

According to Congress and President Obama, the function of the “Super Committee” is to find $1.5 trillion in the national budget. But who’s to say that, in reality, this bill won’t include other provisions, irrelevant to its publicized purpose? With Congress unable to make any modifications to the bill, as American citizens who believe in a democratic approach to government, our only hope is that our representatives would reject this legislation. However, the consequences of not passing the joint committee’s bill are also great – the automatic spending cuts that have been proposed will inevitably be met with opposition from the American public, as well.

So what does all of this have to do with the 2nd Amendment?

The bottom line is, nothing is immune from being included in this legislation. If the “Super Committee” decided to throw a provision into the bill curtailing Americans’ gun rights, there would be nothing to prevent them from doing so.

As the White House has publicly voiced its support for the United Nations Small Arms Treaty, it would not be completely surprising if the savings bill included something to advance this cause.

The committee will consist of Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers, but, if anything, this fact just points to perpetuated gridlock. This does not mean that the savings bill will be any more ethical or democratic in nature than if the committee had an unequal makeup of Republicans and Democrats. Recent events have demonstrated the imperfections of both parties.

This is not to say that the “Super Committee” will zero in specifically on using budget legislation to pass gun control measures. But the argument here goes to show how undemocratic our legislative process has become.

For those who advocate basic freedoms and upholding the Constitution, the debt debacle may shine some light on better days to come. With President Obama’s approval ratings at an all-time low and an economic downgrade on his watch, the chance of a Republican victory in 2012 is on the rise. But the GOP must face the difficult task of finding a candidate that the entire party can rally behind to defeat its opposition next November.