Social Dilemmas In The Current Debate Over The Debt Ceiling

Social dilemmas can be seen in the current debate over the debt ceiling that has been going on in our government over the past year.

Social Dilemmas In The Current Debate Over The Debt Ceiling

The debate is essentially this: Republicans do not want to raise our debt ceiling any further without making spending cuts and refraining from raising taxes. The Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes along with it to fund government programs. Our government must raise the debt ceiling to pay for current government operational expenses. A large portion of it is for defense. The amassing debt our government continues to acquire is troubling most Americans. However, there is a sharp divide on how to stop the debt from increasing and how to start decreasing it.

A Collective Action Problem

There is a clear and major collective action problem in this situation which creates a social dilemma. Democrats propose if we raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations we will be able to pay our debts off. Republicans argue that is irrational and it will not work. They believe that if they raise taxes on the wealthy, which they say are the primary employers in the US. They will either stop hiring people who need jobs or possibly even begin to cut jobs. Which in turn would create a smaller tax-paying base and make more people dependent on expensive governmental programs.

That seems logical and beneficial to everyone. The Democrats, on the other hand, assert to make cuts significant enough to impact the national debt we will have to cut into essential government programs. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment benefits. Cutting these could leave millions of needy Americans stranded in dire need of help. They believe the only way to help our debt crisis is by raising taxes on the wealthy.

Refusals To Meet In The Middle

Unfortunately, the majority of both parties have taken these strong and opposite stances. They are not willing to work on centrist approaches that could benefit the majority of Americans. Instead, they are more interested in strengthening their own party’s influence and power.

Each party keeps using smear and threat tactics to get their way on this legislation. We almost had an entire government shutdown because of the Republicans threatening the Democrats over raising taxes. Ultimately they passed a debt ceiling bill. But with very few provisions for measures aimed at reducing the current deficits.

The problem may very well be a principle-agent problem; this issue seems far too complex for partisan politicians to resolve which creates social dilemmas. The solution may lie in setting up a non-partisan intuition of finance professionals to manage our country’s money. And then they can impose financial limits that must be respected by our government. Through their expertise maybe they can establish yearly spending limits for the government. And make it so that all bills must be passed within the established financial parameters. Our national debt is growing at an alarming rate. Partisan politics are only exacerbating this major social dilemma we are currently facing.

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