Times are good in Washington and the political class is enjoying itself enormously in a game where the players see who will dance closest to the edge of a cliff. Who knew that something as traditionally boring and pedestrian as balancing a budget could be so full of drama? And, then, there is the upcoming Presidential Inauguration, which will feature, along with the bloated rhetoric, lots of fancy parties where the lobbyists and legislators will put aside their cares and dance until dawn.
Meanwhile, out in the country, times remain tough. The president's approval rating has taken a dip since the election. Consumer spending is down. The four-week average of first time claims for unemployment is higher than it has been for a year. Disposable income is down. Student debt is up ... and so on.
But the most dramatic evidence of demoralization out in that country that lies beyond the Potomac is that people have stopped having babies. As Pew reports:
The U.S. birth rate dipped in 2011 to the lowest ever recorded, led by a plunge in births to immigrant women since the onset of the Great Recession.
So, now Americans lack the fundamental confidence and optimism necessary to start families.
Washington, when it has a moment, should worry over this and worry very much. Because somebody is going to have to make the interest payments on those trillions in debt we are racking up.
Maybe after the Inauguration. Or the next election.