When asked whether he wanted to be remembered as a “politician” or a “statesman,” Harry Truman responded, “A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who’s been dead for 15 years.” But  James Freeman Clarke offered a different, more accurate definition: “A politician thinks of the next election — a statesman, of the next generation.”  One thing for certain: we have lots of politicians today!

The so-called debt ceiling “deal” had something for everyone — except the taxpaying public. The few actual cuts that exist are quickly overcome by the fake cuts in increased spending. Ronald Reagan made a similar deal with tax increases and spending cuts. Guess what? The tax increases were put in place, but the spending cuts never happened.

The “deal” did nothing to address the long term problem of spending.  It doesn’t address the fundamental, politically unpopular need to reduce actual spending not just future increases in it.  If you cut real spending now, the future increases in it will be less.  That’s a win/win for all of us.

The “Bush tax cuts” are noticeably missing from the equation. And while the “deal” may not include specific tax increases, it does nothing to stop the tax increases scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2013. If the Republican leaders in Washington were truly concerned about tax increases, they would have fought to make the “Bush tax cuts” a permanent part of the deal.

I’m not in the camp that says all those who voted for the “deal” are evil-doers in need of elimination from office. To be sure, there are several whose job security should be questioned, but certainly not all. I don’t believe Congressman Allen West (R-FL) voted for the “deal” for any malicious reason, but rather because he was convinced it was the best he could get at this time. Conversely, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s (D-MO) NO vote doesn’t automatically put him in the “good guy” column, either!

The “deal” was not a good one.  The U.S. was not going to default on its debts, but, to be sure, the President would have made the “withholds” as painful as possible. He would have made the Republicans out to be the bad guys, ignoring his own party’s culpability in driving up our national debt.

We need statesmen who are more concerned about the future of their constituents than about their own political careers. Our elected officials owe us an explanation for their vote cast on our behalf. We need voters who will take the time to understand why the Congressman Wests of the world voted “yes,” and figure out if the explanation is good enough.

And, if the reasoning is not sound, I would presume you will be voting for someone else. As I explained to those who held a different opinion from mine when I cast a vote, that is the way our system works!