Jillian Bandes
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Raising the debt ceiling is necessary to avoid a government shut down. But Republicans can't do it without butting up against their vow not to raise taxes or increase the size of government -- at least in theory. The spending that necessitates an increase in the debt ceiling has already been done, so raising the it doesn't necessarily mean the politicians who vote for the budget are sanctioning that spending. Instead, they're simply preventing the U.S. Treasurey from failing to live up to its obligations.

Fiscal conservatives, however, have characterized this vote as one would explicitly promote higher spending, as Rep. Michelle Bachmann did here on Townhall.com just a few days ago. "Instead of raising the debt ceiling and giving ourselves an excuse to delay the inevitable, let’s start working on solutions," she wrote.

It's possible to authorize expenditures for what we've already promised while making substantial cuts to future budgets. It's not possible to not pay for our obligations without shutting down essential government services, which doesn't seem to be what John Boehner or the rest of the GOP caucus really wants. That's why pundits are predicting that Congress will simply raise the ceiling while implementing other spending cutbacks to placate conservatives, which is the real importance of the debt ceiling debate. Conservative Republicans can withold their vote until Democrats and moderate Republicans agree to serious cutbacks on future spending, which is a pretty good way to start off the next Congress.
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Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com