Fried liver by the Pink Ham­ster

The Covington News - - Opinion - JACKIE GINGRICH CUSHMAN COLUM­NIST To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, see www.cre­ators.com.

This week, my son is at­tend­ing chess camp. It seemed like a good idea when I signed him up in May. An in­door camp the last week of July when the tem­per­a­ture and the hu­mid­ity in Atlanta would be hov­er­ing around 95 would be a wel­come respite, I thought. I was right.

The first day was soso, but the sec­ond picked up as he re­ported that he watched a video from chesskid.com made by the Pink Ham­ster about the fried liver at­tack.

Hav­ing re­fused to let a ham­ster into the house, and ab­so­lutely sure that my son would NEVER eat fried liver (he had al­ready told me he passed up the lasagna and ate a peanut but­ter sand­wich in­stead), I was pretty sure he was not talk­ing about a new pet and din­ner.

Turns out that the pink ham­ster is the code name in chess lingo for David Petty, who pro­vides chess lessons on chesskid.com. The fried liver at­tack is a se­ries of in­tro­duc­tory moves in chess that, ac­cord­ing to my son, re­sults in one's op­po­nent feel­ing as if his or her liver is get­ting fried.

As hot as Atlanta can be in late sum­mer, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., which is built on a swamp, is nor­mally even more mis­er­able. This year is no dif­fer­ent. His­tor­i­cally, elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives have va­cated our nation's cap­i­tal dur­ing the sum­mer. Just imag­ine in the 1800s the dis­eases that could spread be­tween the lack of san­i­ta­tion and the heat and hu­mid­ity. How­ever, this sum­mer, our elected of­fi­cials are sweat­ing it out in Wash­ing­ton as they try to fig­ure out a so­lu­tion to the debt-ceil­ing cri­sis.

A few facts that pro­vide the struc­ture for what is hap­pen­ing might be help­ful.

The debt ceil­ing is the amount of money that the U.S. Trea­sury has been au­tho­rized to bor­row in or­der to pay the gov­ern­ment's bills. Since it was in­tro­duced in 1917, the debt ceil­ing has been raised 102 times, 10 times dur­ing the last decade alone.

To raise the debt ceil­ing, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Se­nate have to agree to a bill that the pres­i­dent will sign. If the pres­i­dent ve­toes the bill, then both houses would need to over­ride his veto (tech­ni­cally pos­si­ble, but not go­ing to hap­pen right now).

What is our cur­rent debt ceil­ing? $14.3 tril­lion. How does this com­pare to our gov­ern­ment's an­nual rev­enue?

Fed­eral rev­enue was $2.2 tril­lion for fis­cal year 2010. The debt ceil­ing equals six and one half years of to­tal fed­eral gov­ern­ment rev­enue.

Why didn't the gov­ern­ment in­crease the debt ceil­ing when it passed this year's bud­get?

The bud­get for the year end­ing Sept. 30, 2011, was passed in April, more than six months into the fis­cal year and in­cluded the ap­proval to spend, but not the cor­re­spond­ing ap­proval to raise the debt ceil­ing.

How does this debt com­pare to the to­tal eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity of the United States?

Ac­cord­ing to the Bu­reau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis, the 2010 gross do­mes­tic prod­uct was $14.7 tril­lion. The GDP rep­re­sents the mar­ket value of goods and ser­vices pro­duced in our coun­try in one year. The cur­rent debt ceil­ing is al­most the same as an en­tire year of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the United States.

Who pays in­di­vid­ual in­come taxes?

Ac­cord­ing to the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans pay no fed­eral in­come tax. This means that 61 per­cent of Amer­i­cans are pay­ing 100 per­cent of the in­di­vid­ual in­come tax re­ceived by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. From a cur­sory re­view of the facts, it be­comes ev­i­dent that the U.S. gov­ern­ment needs to re­view how it bud­gets and spends. In an ironic move, last Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama nom­i­nated Richard Cor­dray to di­rect the newly formed Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bu­reau (CFPB). Its mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, is "to make mar­kets for con­sumer fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and ser­vices work for Amer­i­cans - whether they are ap­ply­ing for a mort­gage, choos­ing among credit cards, or us­ing any num­ber of other con­sumer fi­nan­cial prod­ucts."

The gov­ern­ment can't man­age prop­erly its own bud­get­ing process and line of credit, but it can set up a new agency us­ing the tax­pay­ers' money to help the tax­pay­ers do what the gov­ern­ment can­not do.

Kind of makes you feel like you feel like your liver is get­ting fried.

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