Raymond: Debt ceiling needs to go
It’s high time we eliminate the debt ceiling
Did you run up your credit card trying to dodge Hurricane Irma? Hotel, meals, fuel, maybe a generator, replacements for damaged items and much more can add up to head-spinning debt.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to constantly raise the card limit and just keep paying the minimum amount every month — like our federal government gets to do. The balance due is now over $20 trillion, which is about 5,000 semi-truck loads of $100 bills. Our monthly payment on that comes to a whopping $30 billion, which is like 42 football stadiums filled with Pokémon characters.
Like your credit card, the federal government also has a spending cap. Actually, it’s more of a borrowing cap, since Congress sets the legal limit on the amount of money our Treasury Department can borrow to pay its debt. But every time we run out of money and it becomes necessary to borrow more, the debt limit is increased.
Periodically, that pesky debt ceiling must be adjusted. And when the time comes, Congress likes to use the occasion to negotiate on behalf of other, current projects dear to its heart. Military spending, border walls, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a host of other issues all end up on the bartering table, their value pitted against the vote to pay our bills and keep the government running. Or not.
Most importantly, however, is elected officials are once again playing politics with the debt ceiling. Raising the amount of money we must borrow isn’t the problem — adopting programs that force us to spend beyond our means is.
The GOP has never been successful holding the debt ceiling hostage in order to advance their causes. They poster and end up with egg on their faces only to cave and raise the ceiling anyway. These are wasted efforts, since spending reductions don’t come from threats of shutdown — they come from legislation.
Columnist Michael Raymond can be reached at email@example.com.