Once again, Congress plays a dangerous game with the raising of the U.S. debt ceiling.
We all know it’s inevitable, insofar as we all want to fund our favorite programs, whether that be military spending or the social safety net. But the continual threat of not raising the debt when we all benefit does no one any good.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the latest fiscal bomb thrower, declaring Republicans will not support raising the debt limit. Doing so requires 60 votes in the chamber, meaning 10 Republicans would have to sign on.
The House passed the measure Tuesday evening on a party-line vote. The Senate figures to be a more difficult hurdle,
McConnell says he objects to the proposed $3.5 trillion in spending Democrats have put forth in their larger plan, though many Republicans signed onto the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that is now with the House. We should remember the COVID relief package that Republicans supported late last year added $900 billion in spending.
And while Republicans did not support the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden supported earlier this year that sent relief to working families, they passed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that provided generous tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy in 2017.
So let’s just call “excessive” spending even with both parties.
Democrats have now put forth a bill that keeps government spending at current levels through the end of the year, provides some hurricane relief and extends the debt ceiling. It’s a reasonable approach, similar to the approaches Republicans have taken in the past when they’ve needed support from Democrats. Democrats say they expect some Republicans to support their effort as they have supported their counterparts in the past. That seems fair.
Without a debt ceiling increase, the U.S. Treasury would have to start paying U.S. debt with funds as they come in and may default on some of its obligations.
“Doing so would likely precipitate a historic financial crisis,” wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently in The Wall Street Journal.
Approving a high debt ceiling limit should not be a partisan issue. It’s required to help the U.S. pay obligations that come from spending supported by both parties.