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OPINION

House Republicans Must Lead with Caution, Responsibility on Debt Ceiling

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

House Republicans have a unique opportunity to use the ongoing debt ceiling debate to help fix America’s spending problem, but only if they approach negotiations carefully and responsibly. Conservative lawmakers, including Republicans in Texas’ congressional delegation, should work to advance commonsense, fiscally responsible solutions to address the debt ceiling.

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The House took an important step in this direction this week by narrowly passing a debt limit increase, 217-215. Now it is time for the Senate to pass a debt limit increase and for the White House to begin negotiating with House GOP leadership.

Failure to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling could increase the potential of a government default that would reverberate throughout our country at a time when the economy is weak. Such an unprecedented event would threaten the financial futures of everyday Americans, including veterans, seniors who rely on retirement accounts, and small business-owners in Texas and across the country. The financial consequences of defaulting on our nation’s debt, including skyrocketing interest rates, a sinking or volatile stock market, and limited credit markets with reduced access for consumers, homeowners, and small businesses, would be felt throughout every corner of our nation.

Critically for states like Texas, a government default could also result in basic government functions to collapse, including U.S. border security. That would make our Southern Border even more vulnerable than it already is, opening the door for fentanyl, drug cartels, other criminals, and even terrorists to infiltrate our communities, our state, and our nation. We as Texans and as Americans cannot afford to let that happen.

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Defaulting on our debt would also massively increase the cost of debt servicing in the federal government, making it even harder for lawmakers to ever return us to a balanced budget in order to actually address our nation’s debt problem. We will never get out of this hole if we keep on shoveling deeper. For the sake of future generations, lawmakers must come up with a smarter solution today.

But the reality is, fixing the debt ceiling is more than just good policy—it’s also good politics. Given the critical election ahead of us, House Republicans need to handle the debt ceiling smartly and responsibly and avoid any hint of a government shutdown.

Everyday Americans and everyday Texans understand that the Biden economy isn’t working for them. Inflation is still out of control, gas prices are putting a strain on families’ wallets, and people are uneasy about what the future holds. All of this is caused by years of unrestrained, wasteful spending that defined the first two years of the Biden presidency. These issues are certain to be front and center in the upcoming 2024 elections, and President Biden’s failures will likely be a drag, not only on his reelection efforts, but on Democrats nationwide.

However, it is vital that House Republicans do not give the President an easy way to escape responsibility on this issue. We all know that the Biden team will be looking for any excuse to pin the economic failures of Democratic policies on Republicans – and Democrats’ friends in the mainstream media will be all too happy to join along in the chorus. That includes blaming House Republicans if contentious debt ceiling negotiations, or a failure to reach an agreement, pushes our economy to the verge of collapse, as happened in 2011.

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If House Republicans play their cards right and approach the debt ceiling debate with caution and a disciplined strategy, then they could force President Biden to finally take ownership for his sluggish economy, all while enacting much-needed fiscal reforms which would put the country on a better, more prosperous path.

It would put Democrats up and down the ballot in a weaker position ahead of the 2024 election cycle and help Republicans make their case for their vision of a stronger economic future for our nation.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that fiscal responsibility is the bedrock the Republican Party. To uphold that principle and avoid a potential economic catastrophe, House Republicans must address this issue reasonably and responsibly. Otherwise, we will not only lose conservatism’s North Star, but we will lose what could be the most important election in our nation’s history.

The Republican Party and our country cannot risk the consequences of our federal lawmakers failing to act on this issue. Republicans should commit to working together to support a reasonable, responsible solution to the debt ceiling while making it abundantly clear to Democrats, the mainstream media, and all Americans that, just like failure, a government default is not an option.

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Matt Mackowiak is Chairman of the Travis County GOP, the president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a former Bush administration official, a Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and a former press secretary to two U.S. Senators.

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