Saturday, September 18, 2021

In Context

Two months ago, Senate Republican Leader McConnell gave notice that Republicans would not be providing any votes to raise the U.S. Federal debt ceiling. With trillions in spending suddenly part of serious regular consideration, Republicans are marking a line.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer quickly rejected the assertion, and Democrats have dismissed any thought of raising the debt on a partisan basis while proceeding to maximize their partisan spending efforts. This week, Schumer cited an economist claiming their proposals “would actually ease inflation pressures, not raise them.” McConnell cited an economist claiming the opposite.

Republicans had already said last year that the $2 trillion Cares Act was a one-time-only-ever vote, and had no intention of spending at that scale ever again. With such high spending amounts somehow becoming the norm, the debt limit is the closest option to attempt to halt further astronomical levels of spending.

Leader Schumer has claimed the debt has been incurred by both sides. He is not wrong. Forcing the debt limit to put a hard stop to any money going out beyond what comes in would make for a sudden fiscal jolt. The Treasury would shift from extraordinary measures for paying the bills to triage of who gets paid and who doesn't. If that included not paying on our debt, it would indeed have “serious negative consequences.”

Schumer's claims fall short by implying that raising the debt limit amounts to meeting our “responsibility to pay our bills.” Debt, by definition, is when monetary amounts are not paid, but deferred until later. Incurring more debt does not pay our bills, it adds to our bills.

Congress Update

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