This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Mike Lee has shown us the light.
For years now, Sen. Lee and his fellow Republicans, and not just those who prefer tea, have been arguing that the United States needs to act like an American family allegedly balancing its budget each year by ensuring that revenue equals or exceeds expenses.
These folks even go so far as to promote passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which, for a nation, is unsound economic policy.
The argument sounds great, but, of course, fails any intellectual examination, as most U.S. households use credit card debt, mortgage debt and other debt (including horrific payday lending) to bridge their cash flow week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year.
While everyone can perhaps agree that the national debt is too high, or at least higher than desirable, we need to be honest about how it got there: tax cuts accompanied by two unfunded wars, and the ensuing deepest recession since the Great Depression.
We must work as a country, in a bipartisan manner, to truly address this issue rather than use it solely for political gain and partisan gamesmanship.
The national debt, albeit too high, is essentially the country's mortgage used to pay for things we need today like roads, utilities and aircraft carriers to create the productivity, and protection, that will allow us to repay that mortgage in later years.
The solution to our national debt eluded me until I read a recent article about Lee and the short sale of his house in Alpine.
Apparently the Lees had to agree with their bank to sell their dream house at a loss to both the Lees and the bank because they spent $1.1 million on the house in 2008, before the financial world collapsed around us.
Compounding the problem was Lee's loss of his job in private practice and his move to the payroll of the federal government not to unemployment insurance benefits, mind you, but to a job as United States senator making $174,500 per year.
Now, in 2012, they were only able to sell the house for $700,000, resulting in a loss of $400,000, or 36 percent. So Lee will walk away from his house and his mortgage obligation.
Nothing has been said to suggest that the Lees have agreed to pay the bank back (which, given the massive financial industry bailouts, means a shift of that loss from the Lees and the bank to U.S. taxpayers).
One can only assume that the Lees' credit rating will suffer, like those of other Americans in this difficult situation. Although it's doubtful any bank in America will really deny Lee, a sitting United States senator, a mortgage the next time he needs one.
Reading about Lee's troubles I realized we have the solution to our national debt problems.
We should simply tell our Chinese "mortgage" holders that we took another job, moved into a rental and we're willing to sell our existing home at a 36 percent discount to our existing $15 trillion mortgage, or a mere $9.6 trillion.
Lee is one of the 102 most senior and important elected officials in the United States. We can and should expect these individuals to set examples for the rest of us.
They should live the political slogans that they choose to shove down our throats simply because they don't want to compromise with the other party.
Mickey Gallivan is a retired advertising executive, was a wire service and broadcast journalist, headed the state Economic Development Department under Gov. Scott Matheson, and was a principal in the bid efforts for the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He is an adviser to The Alliance for a Better UTAH.