My Foundry piece this week explains the clean debt ceiling suspension is just the beginning of a sustained effort to abdicate fiscal responsibility. Some Republicans are discussing the possibility of reinstating the “Gephardt Rule,” a mechanism that allowed for approval of legislation increasing the nation’s statutory debt limit without an actual vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reinstating this rule would supposedly allow lawmakers to avoid periodic debt ceiling dramas, to the detriment of the American people:
America established a statutory debt ceiling in 1917 as part of the Second Liberty Bond Act. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Services, the debt ceiling “imposes a form of fiscal accountability that compels Congress and the President to take visible action to allow further federal borrowing when the federal government spends more than it collects in revenues.”
After passing the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that increased spending by $63 billion over the next two years, legislators took a winter break. Upon returning they irresponsibly rushed to construct the omnibus spending full of wasteful programs, then gave the House less than 48 hours to read the 1,582-page bill.
On Wednesday, the House passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, 359 to 67, (64 Republicans voted no).
Now the spending bill moves to the Senate, where a vote is expected this week. The omnibus takes the country in the wrong direction, both in terms of policy and overall spending levels.
Check out our Scorecard to see how your Representative voted. Then make sure to thank the 64 conservatives who voted against this irresponsible omnibus spending bill.
See How Your Representative Voted
This week, the House is expected to vote on the Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019), which would eliminate taxpayer financing of party conventions and reprogram savings to a 10-year pediatric research initiative via the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While no one questions the intent, these funds would be best used for deficit reduction, not the creation of a new program.
Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) 14% opines that “our debt is on an unsustainable path.” We agree! $17,000,000,000,000 is a number incomprehensible to the human mind. But the 12 zeros should tell us something. Ironically, Rep. Honda has, by his voting record and actions in Congress, proven himself a fiscal liability to our nation, contributing generously to our national debt. We’re keeping count; he is a 5 percent on our scorecard, well below the abysmal Democrat average of 16 percent. Yet, somehow, he finds himself in a position to lecture conservatives about responsibility, and fiscal responsibility at that.
Rep. Honda calls the events leading up to the government shutdown a “dysfunctional, irresponsible game of brinkmanship” and is apparently relieved that “cooler heads ultimately prevailed.” Those “cooler heads” did indeed procure an 11th-hour deal which saved face politically. But Congress accomplished nothing legislatively that would protect Americans from the ravages of Obamacare, and the hefty debt that will result from it in the coming years. Recall, by 2013, just a decade from now, the U.S. will sink $250 billion into Obamacare annually, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Fiscally responsible? Not at all. But I digress.
Washington is in the midst of a critical debate over the future of Obamacare – a debate so critical President Obama and Harry Reid were willing to shutdown the government for fear the debate would lead to the unraveling of their unworkable law. At the same time, discussions about the debt limit are taking place.
The Heritage Foundation and other conservatives have explained that U.S. has much more tax revenue coming in on a daily basis than it has to pay each day on interest payments; this means the U.S. has the financial means to cover its debt obligations without incurring more debt. Heritage notes:
The Obama Administration argues that failure to raise the debt limit would lead to a default on federal debts, causing unacceptable harm to the economy. But the President has ample discretion to prioritize debt payments and avoid default. The President has failed to address the more fundamental risk of default: unconstrained increases in entitlement spending.