The media are currently obsessed with the “debt ceiling” and are grossly distorting the realities!
The “debt ceiling” is NOT in the Constitution. It’s just a law — a law that has been changed many times.
Republicans keep using it to bully Democrats into cutting Social Security, Medicare, and other important programs that people really need. Republicans NEVER call for cutting the Pentagon budget.
Spending is one side of the ledger. The other side is TAXES. Republican who are worried about deficits and the public debt NEVER call for raising taxes on RICH PEOPLE or BIG BUSINESSES. They want to victimize vulnerable people (the poor, the sick) and people who breathe air and drink water.
Unfortunately, public opinion polls show that many voters MISTAKENLY think Republicans are better at managing fiscal matters. ACTUALLY, REPUBLICANS HAVE SCREWED THINGS UP BADLY with huge tax cuts (for the rich and big business) under Reagan, George W. Bush, and Trump. This seriously hurt the revenue side, so it gives Republicans an excuse to cut spending for things we really need.
Republicans really do commit “policy malpractice.”
Likewise, their rhetoric for a “balanced budget” is SIMPLISTIC RHETORIC designed to fool the vast majority of voters who do not understand macroeconomics. They are LYING when they compare it to a family’s budget. Governments that issue their own currency can print more and use deficit spending – like when they spent a lot to get the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Even Richard Nixon said, “We’re all Keynesians now.”
Republicans do NOT deserve the reputation they cultivate that they know how to manage the economy. Reagan, George W. Bush, and Trump cut taxes, escalated the deficit, and committed malpractice regarding the economy – and everything else.
Republicans do NOT even want government to function. They keep holding it hostage, and sometimes they have shut it down. Republicans have no serious public policy proposals. They want to distract us by focusing on non-issues such as what’s on Hunter Biden’s laptop computer and by promoting fear of dark-skinned people, LGBTQ persons, and other “enemies” because they do not have any positive, practical public policies.
I’ve seen a number of sensible articles that show the Republicans’ “balanced-budget” obsession is silly and wrong. Here is just one article about this: Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has published an analysis.
Robert Reich published this smart article: “Five truths about the pending debt-ceiling fight that the mainstream media doesn’t want you to know.” He says, “Both-sides”ism is rampant. And it’s seriously misleading the public. The “five truths” are easy to understand. I strongly encourage people to read this article: https://robertreich.substack.com/p/five-truths-about-the-pending-debt
Actually, “Raising the debt ceiling” is NOT about spending any new money. It IS about PAYING OUR BILLS FOR WHAT CONGRESS HAS ALREADY APPROPRIATED and our government has spent. REFUSING TO PAY BILLS IS FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE. Republicans really are committing FISCAL MALPRACTICE and LYING to the public!
The “debt ceiling” is only a gimmick to allow Republicans to HOLD OUR NATION HOSTAGE and CUT NECESSARY SPENDING by ENDANGERING the U.S.’s credit rating and risking our economy and our national credibility.
Democrats — including Biden — should NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THOSE TERRORISTS!!!
We should ABOLISH the “debt ceiling.”
Elsewhere in this blog’s “Economics” category I have posted information about “Modern Monetary Theory,” which is a bold approach stronger than Keynesianism.
If you want more info about the “debt ceiling,” read this posted on January 25, 2023, by the Brennan Center for Justice (https://brennancenter.org):
The debt ceiling is an artifact of pre–World War II fiscal policy. In the modern era, it makes no sense that Congress must separately authorize debt to cover spending it has already agreed upon.
Once, it was a quaint bit of Americana. Like the Electoral College, it’s no longer charming.
Since the 2011 repeal of the Gephardt Rule — a sensible 1979 reform that allowed Congress to authorize spending and raise the debt limit in a single vote — the debt ceiling has become a cudgel. A party that seizes control of one branch of government — or even half a branch — refuses to raise the debt ceiling. The government is held hostage, and a crisis ensues.
It has become a regular tool, unfortunately, for congressional Republicans.
They brought the government within days of the “X date” (when the government cannot pay its bills) in 2011. The standoff led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the United States’ credit rating. In December 2012, the Treasury Department had to take extraordinary measures as it again approached the debt ceiling.
Indeed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s “extraordinary measures” to keep the government open for a few more months aren’t extraordinary at all — the Treasury has had to deploy them at least seven times since 2011.
Isn’t this just political hardball? Yes, parties use whatever tools they have for an advantage. But it is nihilistic to constantly threaten to crash the economy as a negotiation ploy. As bad as all the standoffs of the last decade were, this one is likely to be worse. In 2011, Republicans had specific demands about budget cuts and strong party leaders empowered to make a deal on behalf of the caucus.
Today, the kooky fringe is in control. And, as Jonathan Chait writes in New York magazine, the right wing is “refusing to lift the debt ceiling unless Biden gives them . . . something. They have not decided what.” Let’s hope they decide before our government defaults on its debts, potentially triggering a global financial crisis.
As the Brennan Center noted in a day-long conference and series of writings a decade ago, all this reflects some fundamental flaws in our creaky governmental system. We have a Madisonian system of checks, balances, and veto points . . . and a polarized Western European party system. This new form of extreme obstructionism was relatively new, and we wondered what the consequences would be. In 2016, we found out: dysfunctional government produces populist passion and political strongmen. On this one, unfortunately, the United States was not even remotely exceptional.
Back then, numerous Republicans and conservatives joined our conference to discuss a way out. Now many of them have been drummed out of their own party. Once, the debt ceiling threat was used to advance entitlement changes and tax cuts. Now it’s a tool for insurrectionists and QAnoners.
How to address the polarization behind so much of this?
One answer is to bar partisan gerrymandering, as the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act did. Incumbents in hypersafe districts don’t fear swing voters, they fear primary challengers. In the Republican Party, they especially fear challengers supported by dark money and billionaire-backed super PACs.
Counterintuitive steps can fortify our system against extortionist lawmakers. One is to bolster the role of political parties, as the Brennan Center has urged, by enabling them to raise more money than is currently allowed. Another is to strengthen the standing committees, which often are venues for bipartisanship (and substantive engagement). My colleague Maya Kornberg has an important new book on that very topic coming out in two weeks.
President Biden is right to stand firm. The Republicans must drop this wreck-the-economy threat. But we can’t leave it there. Without genuine democratic reform, we’ll be in the same place over, and over, and over again.