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Debt Limit Demagoguery

By Da King Published: January 6, 2011

The federal government is currently over $14 trillion in debt. In two-three months, Congress will have to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit or the federal government will begin to default. Such a default would wreak economic havoc on our nation. Many Republicans are demanding spending concessions in return for raising the debt limit. They want to put a plan in place to balance the budget over time in exchange for raising the limit. I call this the sane position. Some other Republicans and conservatives want to draw a line in the sand and vote against increasing the debt limit at all (Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is circulating a petition against raising the debt limit). I call this the insane position. We will have to raise the debt limit, no question. There is no way to go from a $1.3 trillion deficit to a balanced budget in two or three months. There isn't even a proposal on the table to do that. Republicans have been calling for a $100 billion spending cut in their first year controlling the House, and frankly, I'd be surprised if they even accomplished that much when the GOP doesn't control the Senate or the Executive Branch. We will NOT be balancing the federal budget in 2011. You can take that to the bank (preferably a Chinese bank).

The Obama administration has cautioned Republicans against "playing chicken" with the debt ceiling. I call this the other insane position, because it tacitly endorses business as usual, which has produced $5.2 trillion in new debt over the last four years of Democratic congressional rule. Spending restraints should be put in place. A plan to balance the budget MUST be put in place. We cannot continue on our current path of irresponsibility. That would wreak havoc on everyone's future.

Debt ceiling demagoguery abounds. Ironically, things were very different during the previous presidential administration. In 2006, then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) voted AGAINST raising the federal debt limit (He was for playing chicken before he was against it). Also voting against raising the limit was current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Here's what Reid said about increasing the debt limit way, way back in the olden days, four years ago:

“If my Republican friends believe that increasing our debt by almost $800 billion today and more than $3 trillion over the last five years is the right thing to do, they should be upfront about it. They should explain why they think more debt is good for the economy.

How can the Republican majority in this Congress explain to their constituents that trillions of dollars in new debt is good for our economy? How can they explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren to finance this debt through higher taxes. That’s what it will have to be. Why is it right to increase our nation’s dependence on foreign creditors?

They should explain this. Maybe they can convince the public they’re right. I doubt it. Because most Americans know that increasing debt is the last thing we should be doing. After all, I repeat, the Baby Boomers are about to retire. Under the circumstances, any credible economist would tell you we should be reducing debt, not increasing it.Democrats won’t be making argument to supper this legalization, which will weaken our country. Weaken our county.”

Sen. Reid's words made a lot of sense back in 2006, but now, of course, he's taking the opposite position in favor of raising the debt limit. Even worse is this December 2010 video clip, where Reid puts partisan politics at the forefront of the debt limit vote:

You see, to Reid, it's all about who can be blamed for increasing the debt limit. He wants to push as much blame off on Republicans as possible. That's why the Dems didn't raise the debt ceiling when they has control of both houses of Congress. It's all about politics, baby.

Democrats are by no means alone in politicizing the debt limit vote. Here's what Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC) wants, according to The Right Scoop and Human Events:

DeMint says that even with a balanced budget amendment, which he spoke favorably of, he still will not vote to raise the debt limit since he hasn’t created this debt problem. And he encourages the young freshmen to not allow the other Republicans to talk them into it because they didn’t create this problem either. He wants the people who created this problem to take the blame for raising the debt limit:

Demint is pulling an Obama (2006 version) here. We could have quite a debate over who the "people who created this problem" are, but suffice it to say, many of them were Republicans. Also, since when do Congresspersons get to abdicate responsibility for any problems they didn't create ? In another context, Demint's logic could be used to tell incoming Democratic congressional freshmen to defund the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, because, you know, they didn't create those problems. It doesn't work that way. Responsibility is for everyone in Congress. That's the job (or at least it's supposed to be).

It is possible the new Republican-led House Of Representatives will vote against raising the debt limit (at first), but in the end, the debt limit will be raised, because it has to be raised. There really isn't another feasible option.

My final bit of surreal comedy gold for today comes from Obama's 2006 speech against raising the debt limit. Heeeeer'es Barry:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” [Obama] said on March 16, 2006. “Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership . Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.”

Sure, Barry, whatever you say. There has never been a leadership failure on the debt front like your own.

In 2006, every Democratic Senator voted AGAINST raising the debt limit, and all but two Republican Senators voted FOR raising the debt limit. Sen. Demint voted FOR raising the debt limit. Keep that in mind as you listen to almost everyone from both parties taking the exact opposite position now. These are your alleged leaders, and they are unmasked. They put their political parties above the people of the United States Of America.

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