The consensus coming out of the GOP is that it will have to agree to raise the debt ceiling, but only by a smaller increment and accompanied by the Democrats and administration of corresponding spending cuts. In other words, use the vote as leverage to pass cuts such as the $2.5 trillion the GOP proposed the other week.
Others, like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sen. Rand Paul, are steadfast in their refusal to give the Fed any more debt leeway. This begs the question of what, in fact, would happen if we don't raise the ceiling? Contrary to popular belief, the government won't suddenly go into default once the debt ceiling is reached. The fact of the matter is that there is enough cash coming in to pay its commitments for the next several months.
The government would not actually default unless Congress and the president refuse to agree on passage of a law requiring the Treasury to concatenate our spending and prioritize paying the interest and principle of our debt.
This makes all the Chicken Little, "Sky is falling," talk even more absurd. It is nothing but a ploy to scare the America people into turning on the Republicans and blame them no matter what they do.
In 2006, a freshman senator said, "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills."
I'm sure you could guess that the senator I quoted is now our president. I realize that things look different when you sit in the executive seat as opposed to the legislative seat, but President Obama needs to heed the message of Senator Obama. It is a failure in leadership if we indiscriminately keep raising our debt ceiling without cutting the tremendous bloat in which our government continues to blindly wallow.
We need to take a serious look at what causes us to borrow and spend 55 cents of every dollar in this country. There's simply no other way of looking at it. And defense, Medicare and Social Security - the Holy Trinity of government programs and spending - must be chief among those options. Even the GOP's $2.5 trillion in cuts didn't dare to touch those programs, but we must if we truly want to get this ship righted.
There is a blessing in this fiscal tragedy that faces us collectively. The only way to get either party's policymakers to face the cold reality of financial doom is to back them up against a wall and force them to make tough decisions. Raising the debt ceiling is that wall.
Sooner or later, if we continue to ask for more money, the world will stop lending it to us. Every time this vote comes due, Washington needs to be constantly reminded of just how close to peril we stand. Only by drawing a line in the sand now, will we have a chance to pull out of this mess.
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