Politicians who borrow and spend with reckless abandon gave us the 2013 cliff-jumping pact. Congressional politicians enact debt limits, as a gesture of restraint, then waive the limits at will. It is gradual economic suicide.
Government has incurred more debt under President Barack Obama already than under 42 predecessors combined, Washington through Clinton. To continue spending more than our economy can afford, Obama asked Congress to raise the debt limit in 2011. Republicans balked. To avoid sovereign default, Congress and the president struck a deal to immediately increase the debt ceiling by $400 billion, with options for additional increases going forward.
Guilt-ridden politicians raised the limit on condition Congress and Obama would dramatically reduce the deficit in 2013. To ensure deficit reduction, they tied the debt-limit increase to automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, effective in January 2013. Known as “sequestration,” automatic spending cuts could devastate Colorado Springs, as the local economy relies on defense spending.
That our debt ceiling is a joke — like a credit limit the consumer manipulates at will — caused this mess. Presidents no longer have impoundment or line-item veto power, which means a debt limit is the only control on spending. Behold the wise man who said “enough” this week:
We are “not going to raise the debt ceiling ever again until we address what got us in debt, and that’s government spending and entitlement growth.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Dec. 4, 2012.
Years before a $16.3 trillion debt had us gazing into the abyss, contemplating our economic mortality, another wise man warned us about debts and debt limits:
“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 cannot 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... Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. 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.”
These words belong to a revered American who may rank second-to-none in our national annals. They are the words of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who was battling a 2006 request for more credit by then-President George W. Bush.
President Obama, what happened? Washington’s debt has long burdened future generations and the future has arrived. Review your statement of 2006, Mr. President. Then re-frame. Sell the merits of sacrifice, charity and self reliance. Lead this country from crisis without incurring more debt.