Generous to a Default?
If you thought your credit was a mess, you should see the government’s! With daily payments as high as $60 billion, America has been testing the brakes at the brink of spending crisis after spending crisis. Now, days away from maxing out the government’s virtual credit cards, the House and Senate are in a mad scramble to put another financial fire out: the prospect of defaulting on America’s loans.
As if the frenzy over ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood weren’t enough, the U.S. is about to thump its head on what’s known as the debt ceiling — another term for the country’s $18.11 trillion credit limit. For months, the November 3rd deadline has been sneaking up on a Congress preoccupied with Iran, the Defense Authorization bill, and a highly-anticipated budget reconciliation debate. Like the other last-minute budget fights, this conversation is an explosive one. For one, it puts the spotlight back on the government’s irresponsibility — as well as two radically different ways of dealing with it.
Not surprisingly, the President’s party is demanding that Congress raise the borrowing limit — no strings attached. Obviously, their idea of a solution is ballooning the debt more and pushing off long-term fiscal restraint to offset it. Republicans, on the other hand, are tired of the government living outside its means and want to tie the debt limit increase to some kind of meaningful spending reform. “I want a debt limit that gets raised,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), “but also does something about the debt.”
Apparently, that’s a non-starter in this White House. President Obama, the same man responsible for the United States’ first credit rating downgrade, refused to even consider a debt limit extension that helps prevent this problem in the future. According to an administration spokesman, the President “isn’t even negotiating with our partners on the Hill.” With time ticking down, Democrats are only digging in deeper. “I don’t have any interest in any coupling [this with other legislation],” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters bluntly.
But looking the other way while America heaps more debt on future generations has become an increasingly uncomfortable position for conservatives. A position that will almost certainly be complicated by the election of a new House Speaker. With the leadership race set to wrap up before the November 3rd debt deadline, the conversation over U.S. borrowing could take an interesting turn.
Whether it’s Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) gavel or someone else’s, the credit crisis will help set the tone for the House’s new chapter. Will the new Speaker go along with a “clean” bill, uncomplicated by any sort of budget accountability? Or will he force a conversation on government spending that Democrats don’t want to have? In a government that can somehow rationalize a $2.4 million grant for origami condoms, surely we can agree: now is no time to fold.
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