Friday, December 11, 2009

Raising the Limit on the National Credit Card

One month before Obama was elected as President of the United States the National Debt Clock, a digital counter near Times Square, ran out of space  to track the national debt.  This was after a Democratically controlled Congress had promised in 2006 during the first 100 hours in control they would drain the swamp, break the link between legislation and lobbyists and beyond that:

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority
Today that same debt clock reads slightly over $12.1 trillion reflecting an increase of close to 2 Trillion dollars since October 2008.  While the clock in Times Square found a way around the debt that became too large for their clock, Congress now ponders a solution to a debt too large for their self-imposed limitations.  The solution is to raise the statutory limit on the federal debt that was most recently raised to $12.1 trillion in provision of  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the "stimulus."   Congress is proposing increasing the statutory limit on the federal debt by another 1.8 Trillion, while 50 House Republicans propose legislation making it more difficult for Congress to raise its' own credit card limit.

The limit has been raised seven times since 2002.  When Bush was elected in 2000 the federal debt was 5.6 Trillion.  By 2006, when Democrats took control of Congress that figure had grown to 8.4 Trillion.  Since then the projections and actual growth in the debt have been astronomical:

The need for Congress to reign in spending or raise the limit is urgent:
With the fiscal 2009 deficit at $1.4 trillion and the current debt at $12.09 trillion, advocates of raising the limit say it is essential because the country will probably hit the current limit by the end of the month.

"We expect Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner," a Treasury official said.

Democrats want to hike the ceiling and face the music now rather than deal with the fallout next year, when Republicans could seize on the issue for political gain in the 2010 congressional election.
To borrow a phrase from the President, let me be clear, Republicans can and should seize the issue not only for political gain but to stop the insane spending this Democratic Congress seems unwilling or unable to contain themselves.  The Republican proposed legislation making it more difficult to raise the limit faces a difficult path to law largely because Republicans lack the votes in either the House or the Senate to stop anything Democrats commit themselves to passing or opposing.

Before voters go to the polls next year they should know how this Democratically controlled House and Senate has handled the nation's financial future.  While the media and pundits are quick to point out the years of irresponsible spending under Bush and a Republican Congress, the Democrats have raised out of control spending to an art form.  Raising their limit now to hide from voters their irresponsibility in 2010 seems in line with the rest of Democratic strategies lately.  When it comes to the limits of federal debt, Democrats can run but they can't hide from the fiscal train wreck they've set in motion as Senator Judd Gregg makes clear:
Gregg said this "is not a theoretical problem -- it is directly in front of us." And he warned that "the nation will go bankrupt" if spending is not reined in.

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