Owning a small business has been difficult over the past year and a half.
It’s probably not shocking to hear, I know. A global pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans and more than one in 500 residents here in Erie County. Months of lockdowns, closures and fear. One of the biggest economic crises since the Great Depression.
Throughout it all, my employees and I at Lavery Brewing in Erie have scratched and scratched to survive. We made sacrifices and made some tough decisions that helped keep the lights on. And while the pandemic is far from over, after nearly 19 months of navigating a world with COVID, I’m optimistic we’ll survive – as long as there aren’t more disasters on the horizon.
Following:Erie County Reports Four COVID-19 Deaths Since Monday
This is why I was so shocked to read that U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, Rep. Scott Perry, and the rest of their Republican colleagues refused to lift a finger to help the United States avoid going over the ceiling of the debt next month. This is exactly the kind of disaster I’m talking about – especially since you can see it coming, and it’s so easy to avoid.
Following:What does the debt ceiling deadlock mean for your finances and 401 (k)?
Raising the debt ceiling – a law that essentially allows the United States to repay loans it has already taken out – should not be controversial. It does not dictate how the government will spend our tax dollars; in effect, we would be raising the debt ceiling to cover the money spent over the past several years under the administrations of President Trump and President Biden. That’s why two years ago, Republicans and Democrats both voted overwhelmingly to help then-President Trump and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raise the ceiling of debt no problem.
Raising the debt ceiling is no different than having a business like mine taking out a loan. When Lavery Brewing started, we took out loans, always knowing that there was nothing more important than paying them back. What if we haven’t? Well, we would default on the loans and go bankrupt. Our business would have disappeared.
If the United States does not suspend the debt ceiling, we will default on our loans – and our economy as we know it will be all but wiped out. Our country would lose six million jobs and our unemployment rate would almost double. We have worked so hard to recover from the depths of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, and we would be back where we started.
Now imagine my business defaulting on a loan even though I had the capacity to repay it. Imagine I had the money lying around, and everyone in town knew it, but I just didn’t want to. I would be the laughing stock. What if I was working to come out of bankruptcy and wanted to open another brewery, who would loan me out again and help me get started?
Again, this is pretty much the situation our country finds itself in. Congress has consistently lifted the debt ceiling before – we did it no later than 2019. Democrats voted for, and Republicans did, under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. If we default on our debts in front of the world just because some people in Washington want to play political games, we will be laughed at. American credibility and American leadership, gone in the blink of an eye.
Yet, with weeks before America hits the debt ceiling, this is exactly what Senator Toomey and his Republican Party cronies seem to want. When I was growing up, the GOP always presented itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, and yet here they are, leading us into economic disaster. There isn’t even a principle behind it – Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Toomey have said they know how bad it will be for our nation if we hit the debt ceiling, but they seem to think that forcing a crisis will help them in the midterm elections.
Well, senators, I may be too busy running a business to pay attention to most of the twists and turns in Washington, but most voters are not models. When you tell us that you are ready to play political games with our economy, we believe you. And when you once again endanger the brewery that I have worked so hard to keep alive for a year and a half by creating a disastrous, self-taught economic crisis, you are absolutely right, I will remember this next November – and the names of all the Republicans who opposed the suspension of the debt ceiling and wanted to put my business in jeopardy.
I run my business and do my job. Now, it’s time for you to make your own.
Jason D. Lavery, President | Founding Brewer