Home > Personal Finance > Of Debt Ceiling Debates, Non-Denial Denials and Non-Default Defaults

Comments 0 Comments

In 1980, Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan asked the American people: “Are you better off than you were four years ago….Is America more respected?” Fast forward to the cyber era of 2011, where anything less than real time is considered “so two weeks ago,” and weeks seem like dog years: are you feeling better now than you did four months ago? Do you believe that America is more respected in the world after our Debt Ceiling Smack-down?

After weeks of histrionics and political brinksmanship that terrified consumers, roiled the markets and bemused and befuddled the rest of the world, our leaders have proclaimed that fiscal calamity has been averted and the budget debate has been altered forever.

How’s that working for you?

In the opinion of many friends and colleagues, we have just witnessed a circus that diminished our image on the world stage and, among the folks I have spoken with on all sides of the political spectrum, didn’t do a hell of a lot to improve their impressions of the American political process.

[Related article: Gov’t Asks FAA Safety Inspectors for a Big No-Interest Loan]

And while we’re on the subject of the American political process, do you remember All the President’s Men? If you read the book by Washington Post investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, or saw the movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, the political drama of the past few weeks may bring back vivid memories of our dark and relatively distant past.

All the President’s Men chronicled the downfall of the Nixon administration from the botched 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate complex, to the elaborate and distracting White House cover-up, to the first resignation of an American President in August of 1974. There was intrigue, countless plot twists, shadowy foreign and domestic operatives, a slew of unforgettable vignettes and several turns of phrase within the story. The one that keeps coming back to me these past few weeks is the “non-denial denial.”

[Resource: Get your free Credit Report Card]

The term “non-denial denial” was coined by Woodward and Bernstein to describe what most officials of the Nixon administration did when confronted by an awkward question or compromising fact: they didn’t deny it—and they didn’t admit it, either. They simply deflected the question by talking about some related aspect of the inquiry that could be framed in a positive light. They would then refuse to answer any other questions. This happened so often during the Watergate era that the “non-denial denial” has become a part of American political lexicon, though these days they are not as elegant as they once were. In recent years when confronted with a difficult question, many politicians routinely, lamely, and unabashedly … lie. It is as if decorum no longer requires any effort to sidestep an awkward fact—it’s become politically correct to let loose with an unblinking prevarication to score political points or reply to a tough question. If you have any doubt, just take a look at Politifact.org’s ever-growing list of falsehoods.

These past few weeks, however, we have witnessed a throwback to the halcyon days of the Nixon era and its parlance. What just happened in Washington was a non-default default.

OK, so we all know that there wasn’t an actual default. The United States will continue to fund Social Security, Medicare and pay interest to its largely foreign investors. But we also know that there was never a real chance that the debt ceiling would remain in a state of suspended animation. The only question was whose blood would be spilled during the course of a pathetic tug-of-war that would ultimately lead to the ceiling being increased.

[Featured Product: Shopping for secured credit cards?]

Non-Default Default (cont.) »

Image © Terry Evans | Dreamstime.com

Pages: 1 2 3

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team