As the federal government once again speeds toward the fiscal cliff of its $32 trillion debt borrowing limit, concerned Americans witness the same old song and dance.
Political theater and bluster, dire warnings, the supposed “guarantee” of a “financial apocalypse” if America defaults on its debt obligations.
Then, as night follows day, the debt borrowing limit is raised again, the “crisis” is averted and D.C, goes back to what it was doing before and does constantly, spend, spend, spend—until the next debt ceiling fight.
As Thomas Jefferson predicted, “future American leaders would be tempted to borrow to enhance their short-term popularity, while burdening a future generation with debt.”
This is completely unsustainable.
Let’s really consider this: how is a debt default ultimately worse than this ever-increasing ocean of debt?
Some respond “America’s standing in the world will be tarnished, its financial status and prestige will be damaged.”
Millions of Americans are equally—if not more worried—that all those things will happen when the federal government bankrupts our country. Maybe if the U.S. defaults on some of its financial obligations our federal officials will be forced to recognize we have way too many of them.
During this debate it’s important to note the deceitfulness of national Democrats on this issue:
“As for Social Security and Medicare, one of the more cynical strategies governments use to resist spending reductions is to pretend the most popular programs are the only ones it’s humanly possible to cut. Called the “Washington Monument Strategy” or “Firemen First Strategy,” they defund the parks, the firemen, the police, trash collection, school lunches, aid to the elderly. In other words, hand over the money, or grandma and the kids get it.” ((Heritage Foundation, Peter St. Onge and Richard Stern, May 10, 2023).
And why do national Democrats attempt to obscure in this fashion?
Because they want to hide from taxpayers “all the other trillions of government spending that doesn’t poll well: outrageous pensions where government workers make twice what the rest of us make and retire at 42 with benefits we’ll never dream of. Or the trillions spent on crony boondoggles …” (Heritage).
So, considering the precarious financial position America is in, is a partial default—and it won’t be allowed to last longer than a few days—really worse than the continued reckless and dangerous over-spending that has led to a 32 trillion-dollar national debt?
In FY 2022, American taxpayers spent $475 billion in interest payments on the national debt—a figure that is expected to rise to $640 billion in the current fiscal year, FY 2023. (Fox Business).
What, by the way, are Republicans demanding in their debt ceiling bill?
The Wall Street Journal: “The House GOP bill would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for returning spending levels to the days of yore known as fiscal 2022 and capping spending levels at 1% growth for a decade.” (WSJ, 5-12-23).
I’m focused on debt in this article but what else is in the Republican bill? “… sensible fixes to the country’s byzantine process for permitting projects, and to require that able-bodied, prime-age adults with no children work or volunteer part time in return for Medicaid or food stamps.” (WSJ).
Do we see how little Republicans are seeking in their bill, in return for raising the debt ceiling not a few hundred billion dollars but $1.5 trillion?
Democrats’ response is that the tax cuts that Republicans legislated under President Trump are to blame for all of these deficits, and it’s not fair to cut a single dime in spending after Republicans “drained all of that revenue from the Treasury.”
In fact, that is the opposite of the truth.
The Republican tax cuts boosted economic growth, which increases peoples’ income and therefore the taxes they owe. According to the Treasury itself, “total revenue has increased from $4.05 T in 2015 to $4.90 T in 2022.”
We have to stop this insanity.
As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has warned, “long-term debt is the single greatest threat to our national security. High debt not only crowds out resources that strengthen our security, but it also narrows our tools for dealing with unfriendly nations, leaves our economy more vulnerable to actions of other countries, and weakens our global standing and prestige.”
All concerned Americans should support the House Republicans’ attempt to begin to get America’s fiscal house in order.
(Royal Alexander was a staff member to the late U.S. Representative Clyde C. Holloway of Louisiana’s 8th congressional district, since disbanded, who also served as chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. He was also a member of the Republican State Central Committee of Louisiana from 2008-2012. He is an attorney.)