The government debt presently stands at $14.3 trillion. Now it’s time for Congress to debate whether that ceiling should be raised, by how much and who will vote for it.
If one listens to the tea party patriots, their message is just don’t do it. President Obama and his liberal supporters say the sky is falling and we must raise the debt ceiling with no restrictions attached. Moderate Democrats and Republicans favor raising the ceiling with permanent spending cuts guaranteed to prevent this action from happening again next October with the next fiscal budget due.
The entire process has been desensitized by the White House. They say It’s a problem to fix immediately – no time to waste. The truth is the nation can go for months before there is any danger of default.
Meanwhile, most Americans have no idea at this point what all the fuss is about.
Those who adhere to tea party political philosophy have the most to lose if the debt limit is increased. They ran on a theme of less taxes and reduced spending. If the debt ceiling is raised, the perception will be that they aren’t doing their job. But they, more than anybody, are also acutely aware that not doing so will produce results disastrous to this country and the world.
For decades, Congress routinely voted to raise the debt limit. But no more. Republicans leaders are now demanding new limits on discretionary spending, entitlement program reforms, a balanced budget amendment and no new taxes.
All rejected by the president and his supporters.
Both the White House and congressional Republicans sought political advantage last month when Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating from “stable” to mildly “negative.” Obama advisers blasted Republicans for trying to hold the U.S. economy hostage and accused them of playing chicken with the debt limit.
All this is mildly amusing considering Obama, as a freshman Senator in 2006. voted with fellow Democrats against the Bush White House and their attempt to raise the debt ceiling. “Leadership failure” was the future president’s reasoning. He now calls that vote “a mistake.”
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have their own spin game. While they have merit in their argument to cut spending and institute reforms, voting no on the debt increase is dangerously irresponsible. The two sides are throwing stones knowing full well the debt ceiling must be raised … once again.
One way or another, the increase will be granted. It has been three generations since this country has been asked to truly sacrifice as a people. The Second World War comes to mind as the last real test of this country’s resolve. It is that spirit of sacrifice we failed to summon after 9/11. We must now pay the price of that miscalculation and avoid passing it on to the next generation to pay for us.
The coming deadline to raise the ceiling is not the time. Negotiate the best deal that can be made for budget cuts, sign off on it and prepare for the 2012 budget due in October. That will be the real test of wills.
This is not the moment in time for an ideological fight. It will come this Fall.
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