Debt ceiling debacle may be returning

Dancing on the debt ceiling

The dance is poised to begin again. Image: BY-SA

Remember the debt ceiling debate between the Obama Administration and House Republicans last summer? You know, the one that brought government to a screeching halt for a time and pretty much defined the party-based bickering that has become systemic in Washington? Well, to paraphrase “Poltergeist,” it’s baaacckk!

The never-ending debate

Later this year the nation will once again be approaching its debt ceiling, the spending cap set aside to pay the nation’s bills. It currently tops out at $16.4 trillion. Yet again, it will need to be raised or the U.S. may default on international creditors, possibly further lowering the nation’s credit rating and doing irreparable damage to the U.S. dollar around the globe. All it takes is an agreement between the branches of government and a few signatures to make it legal. — If only it was that simple.

Once routine

In the past, this was done routinely. According to John Grgurich of The Motley Fool, the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times in the last 50 years, and 10 times in the last 11. But last summer changed all that, when Congressional Republicans refused to agree to the upped-ceiling without attaching massive spending cuts to it. The fight lasted until it was nearly down to the wire, but the bickering lost the nation a notch on its credit rating from Standard & Poor’s.

House speaker speaks out

Republican House Speaker John Boehner started the debate on Tuesday, May, 15, when he suggested that the inevitable debt ceiling debate be dealt with during the coming summer, right in the heat of the presidential election, instead of waiting until the fall when it will be more timely.

Boehner was quoted as saying:

“As long as I’m around here, I’m not going to allow a debt ceiling increase without doing something serious about the debt.”

Romney’s two cents

President Obama said he will not tolerate a repeat of last year’s debacle, but that hasn’t stopped the debate from heating up. Mitt Romney, who will undoubtedly be the President’s rival in this year’s election, joined in Wednesday, referring to Obama’s criticism of his predecessor, George W. Bush’s, record on spending.

Romney said to a crowd in St. Petersburg, Fla.:

“I find it incomprehensible that a president could come to office and call his predecessor’s record irresponsible and unpatriotic, and then do almost nothing to fix it and instead every year to add more and more and more spending.”

White House firm

But the White House is talking tough, too. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said:

“The president made clear that we’re not going to recreate the debt ceiling debacle of last August. It is simply not acceptable to hold the American and global economy hostage to one party’s political ideology.”

Hoagie showdown

Wednesday, during a hoagie luncheon at the White House, the President hoped to move beyond the untimely issue and discuss his agenda of new plans to help spur employment in small business and among veterans. Instead, House Republicans spent the day criticizing Obama’s handling of the economy. When a motion was made to move on to Obama’s agenda, it was voted down, 99 to zero.

Yep. Here we go again.


New York Times
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