The House of Representatives has kicked the debt ceiling can down the road at least until May. Predictably, there are plenty of politicians in Washington who applauded the increase. White House press secretary Jay Carney set the tone recently when he said that “there is no alternative to Congress raising the debt ceiling.”
Also predictably, President Obama continues to lead the charge for the increase in the debt limit. In the final news conference of his first term, Mr. Obama demanded that Congress raise the debt limit again, stating that “I don’t think anybody would consider my position to be unreasonable here.”
Unfortunately for the president, he himself, as Sen. Obama, viewed the federal debt in a very different light. In 2006, during the debate over raising the debt ceiling (which then was a relative bargain at $8.6 trillion), Obama said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership.”
In 2006, it was a Republican administration that failed to lead. Now it is a Democratic president and his shills in the Congress that are perpetuating this failure.
Administrations of both parties have failed to accept the responsibility to stem this nation’s continuing spiral into an unsustainable dependence on more and more debt. Given the present level of federal indebtedness, every increase in the debt limit is a gamble with very long odds. And the politicians are playing with our money.
Cobb County is represented in Congress by two senators and three members of the House of Representatives.
Including the most recent increase, there have been 12 increases in the debt limit since 2000.
On recorded votes to increase the debt limit, Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have both voted to approve an increase in the debt ceiling 50 percent of the time. (The Senate has not yet voted on the most recent extension.)
Over in the House of Representatives, Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) approved an increase 50 percent of the time. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) has voted for the increase one out of five times. Finally, not surprisingly, Rep. David Scott (D-south Cobb) has voted for the increase six out of seven times.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives has taken the bold step of conditioning another long term increase in the debt ceiling on the Democrat-controlled Senate’s passing a budget, which it has failed to do since April 29, 2009, notwithstanding a legal requirement that it do so on an annual basis.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has stated that, “The House must succeed in its effort to force an end to the Senate Majority’s lawlessness. Theirs is a plan for an open and public process and for the financial security of America.”
A recent Fox News poll revealed that 83 percent of those polled believe that government spending is out of control. It is called a debt ceiling for a reason.
There is a reason that raising the debt ceiling requires the approval of Congress. I agree with Mr. Obama — the 2006 version, that is.
Jerry Landers is an attorney in Marietta.