Unless you have chosen to not watch the news over the last several months you know that there is some fierce debate happening in Washington about the debt ceiling. In a nutshell, if we don’t raise the debt ceiling we run the risk of not being able to pay our bills as a country, ruin our credit rating, and a myriad of other bad things depending on who you ask. This USA Today article does a good job of explaining the various points of view.
During the midterm election season, the tea party slot of candidates all drew a hard-line when it came to the debt ceiling. They would not vote to raise the debt ceiling at all, no questions asked. Once they got in office the line was softened a bit, once they realized that there pretty much would be no option other than to raise it. The new line became they would not vote to raise it unless it came it was partnered with serious spending cuts that would begin to reduce our national debt over the next 10 years. That sounds great and all, but why risk hurting our credit rating and the country’s ability to do business over spending cuts. To me it makes more sense to ensure our rating is protected, and the world markets are stable, and then engage in some serious talks about getting our debt under control.
Simply cutting our way out of debt is not the simple solution to the problem. Any tax cuts also have to be paired with new revenues. It doesn’t matter how much we cut if we aren’t also raising new money. Without raising new money, we will always have a need to borrow no matter how much gets cut. The problem is that no one on the republican or tea party side is willing talk about new revenues, a cuts only approach is all they are willing to talk about. We recently had this same battle here in NC and the resulting budget is going to be devastating to this state. Why can’t republicans and tea party politicians see this? Is it really about holding the line on a political struggle?
Some tea party members are still holding the original line. They want a budget that is limited by the current debt ceiling or nothing else. A prime example of this is freshman Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. He has clearly laid out his position here, and is sticking with it. So much so that is he holding up Senate business. He has pledged to hold up business by blocking all unanimous consent calls. A lot of what the Senate does is based on these unanimous consent calls to bring something up for a vote. In a moment of protecting the line in the sand, he wants to hold up all Senate business until he gets what he wants.
My take on the issue is that adding more debt is a bad thing, but protecting our countries credibility is more important. No matter how you feel about debt or spending, protecting the country should come first. Then we can have serious conversations about what is needed to get the debt under control. But once these conversations get started both sides need to negotiate in good faith, understanding that it will take both cuts and new revenues to solve the problem. The problem isn’t just about the eliminating debt, it is also about reducing the need to borrow. Once politicians figure that out maybe we can make some progress and stop holding party lines for the sake of winning a power struggle. They need to remember this isn’t about them, but rather the people they have been voted in by to serve.