Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to wrangle with the debt issue - trying to get his own party and the Republicans to some sort of middle ground on spending and taxes.
Dear Mr. President,
You were talking about wrestling with this stubborn debt issue and you said something that really caught my attention, something to the effect of “we may as well do it now, because it’s not going to get any easier.” I could not agree more, and that bolsters my belief that you are right to tear into this problem immediately.
I met a woman once who was in deep personal debt. She owed about $30,000 to a credit card company. By the time we spoke she was working it out, pruning her expenses, and pounding away at reducing the principal. In other words, she was acting like a rational person once again, not an 18-year-old NBA star.
So I asked her, “How did you get into this mess?” Her answer sounded like a blueprint for the very problems we are facing now. To paraphrase: “When I first realized I had a debt problem, it was small, so I didn’t feel as if I had to deal with it. By the time it was midsize, I was so dependent on the money that I just didn’t want to cut back. And when it was out of control, I asked myself, ‘What difference will a few thousand more mean at this point?’ So I kept on spending. Only when I finally sought professional help and accepted that there is never an easy or good time for engaging such problems did I start improving my situation.”
Big messes, in my experience, rarely get better with age. The autumn leaves do not blow away if you ignore them. I should know, because I’ve tried that theory more than once, only to find myself in the early days of winter raking soggy, matted piles of crumbling debris as a result. A small oil leak in a car leads to a big engine overhaul. And unaddressed debt just gets bigger the longer it is ignored.
So, as I’ve said before, good luck with the talks.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with