Debt Ceiling Vote Will Be The GOP’s First Test

Freshman Members of Congress are threatening to block a vote to raise the debt ceiling that Congress will have to take by this Spring. They'd be irresponsible if they did so.

Sometime within the next couple months, Congress will once again face the necessity of having to pass a bill raising the debt ceiling so that the United States can continue borrowing, and it is shaping up to be a battle that the incoming Tea Party are dying to lead:

Days before Republicans take control of the House, the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling continues to loom over the nation’s capital.

Congress is probably months away from being required to vote on increasing the nation’s ability to borrow money, though officials in Washington are already positioning themselves for the upcoming fight – with some lawmakers signaling they’d oppose the measure, others saying they aren’t sure and the Obama administration predicting dire results if the ceiling is reached.

The vote, which could come at the earliest in March, is a prime example of where rhetoric might meet reality for newly elected House Republicans. Refusing to increase the country’s borrowing capability was a major theme during the 2010 election season, as conservative Republicans promoted their deficit-hawk views by vowing to oppose measures that would allow the Treasury to borrow beyond the $14.3 trillion ceiling Congress set in 2010.

Shortly after the election, incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he “made it pretty clear to [newly elected Republicans] that, as we get into next year, it’s pretty clear the Congress is going to have to deal with it.”

(…)
Two newly elected Republican members of the House differed Sunday morning on whether they’d vote for the measure. Rep.-elect Allen West of Florida, a favorite of tea party activists, said he doesn’t think the nation will default on its obligations, but that his vote to raise the debt limit would be tied to whether Congress tackles some other fiscal issues.

“The only way that I would ever support raising the debt limit [is] if we also talk about budgetary controls on the federal government [by] capping its spending [and] how do we deal with the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid problems, because they cannot continue to run on autopilot,” West said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “I’m not going to write a blank check as far as raising the debt limit without us also saying we’re going to do these things to make ourselves fiscally responsible.”

Rep.-elect Mike Kelly, the Pennsylvania Republican who defeated Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper in the state’s vast 3rd District, said “raising the debt ceiling … is absolutely irresponsible.”

“We’ve been spendinfg money for so long that we don’t have and [we] keep saying, “Well, it’s OK; we’ll just raise taxes; we’ll find it somewhere,” Kelly said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Some Democrats are joining in the uncertainty game. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a lawmaker close to her party’s leadership, said on CBS that she would “wait and see the direction that the Republicans want to take — take our policies.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) left decidedly less wiggle room. Appearing on CBS with Wasserman Schultz, Kelly and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House tea party caucus said “at this point, I am not in favor of raising the debt ceiling.” She noted that her political action committee has a petition online to “urge their member of Congress not to raise the debt ceiling because the Congress has had a big party the last two years.”

The Obama Administration is already starting the rhetorical fight by portraying those who would use the debt ceiling vote to make a political point as far outside the mainstream:

President Obama’s top economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, warned today against “playing chicken” with raising the country’s debt ceiling, saying it would cause “a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.”

“This is not a game. The debt ceiling is not something to toy with,” said Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, in an exclusive interview on “This Week.”

“If we hit the debt ceiling, that’s … essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history,” he said. “The impact on the economy would be catastrophic.”

Former Reagan economic adviser Bruce Bartlett agrees with the Administration:

Since I first started writing about this danger, some of these nutty right-wingers have been elected to Congress under the Tea Party banner. Since many have never served in elected office before and know virtually nothing about economics or finance, I don’t think they realize that they are playing with fire when they even hint at the possibility of a debt default. They are like children playing with matches.
What I haven’t figured out how to properly convey is that a default triggered by a failure to raise the debt ceiling is of a completely different nature than the sort of default that Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart wrote about in their book. All of those cases were market-driven, where investors refused to buy or refinance a nation’s debt because of fiscal profligacy, irresponsible monetary policies etc. A U.S. default, by contrast, would be 100% self-inflicted based on loss of the Treasury’s legal authority to issue bonds, not because of a lack of market demand for those bonds. The historically low level of real and nominal interest rates on Treasury securities is proof that there is still strong demand for Treasury securities.
I have spent considerable time trying to figure out what exactly would happen in the event that, at some point, the Treasury literally had no cash to pay interest on the debt, redeem maturing securities, pay Social Security benefits and so on. Some people believe that the Treasury has an almost unlimited ability to fudge the problem indefinitely. But I know that there are analysts at the GAO who are very concerned about hitting a hard limit on the Treasury’s legal authority not long after the debt ceiling is breached. The law is very unclear and has never been tested in court.
In other words, we don’t really know what the consequences of a U.S. debt default would mean, but at the very least it would create uncertainty in the Bond and Stock Markets unlike anything we’ve seen before, and it would bring to an end the era where U.S. Treasuries were considered the safest investment in the world. It would also mean a government shutdown unlike anything we’ve seen before. The fact that the government would no longer have the legal ability to borrow money would mean that everything would have to be shut down, even “essential” services that would normally continue operating in the case of a  shutdown caused by failure to pass a budget like we saw in 1995. Politically, that would mean that the White House could plausibly claim, for example, that Republicans were putting the country in danger. Combine that with the panic in the financial markets and there’s no way that the GOP would come out of a shutdown undamaged.
As I noted when I wrote about this in the aftermath of the midterm elections:

Raising the debt ceiling is a crappy vote for any legislator to take. It demonstrates as plain as day the fiscal irresponsibility of the Federal Government, and the act of voting to push the debt limit even further into the fiscal stratosphere is one that looks bad on any representative’s resume. However, it’s also not a vote to be playing games with, as Boehner correctly points out. Unless Republicans intend to use the debt ceiling vote as a catalyst to force a national debate on making the kinds of spending cuts and tax changes that will be needed to seriously deal with the debt (and I would love it if they did), they need to just swallow their pride and cast the vote.

Playing chicken with the national economy to make a political point is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Economics and Business, Tea Party, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. sam says:
  2. Axel Edgren says:

    Even saying that you will raise the debt ceiling if you get some small concessions is completely irregular and ideological. Raising it is an unconditional matter – creating total havoc or threatening to do so simply to huff the fumes of symbolism is truly selfish.

  3. mike says:

    the repubs are as addicted to spending as the Dems – they will cave – there won’t be significant budget cuts if the past 20 years of the GOP is any indicator.

  4. daveinboca says:

    mike may be right, but Axel is an stupid oaf who really shouldn’t be let out of his crib. Nothing is unconditional except shutting down the corrupt ObamaCare abomination and squeezing the Dems out of the Senate and the White House in 2012.

  5. Jay Tea says:

    What a radical thought — “we already owe over 14 TRILLION dollars — let’s not borrow any more!”

    It’s gotta be done sooner or later. And the later it is, the worse it will be.

    My only complaint about it being done now is, “why the hell didn’t Congress do this before?”

    J.

  6. swift boater says:

    Earth to Doug–you missed the election of 2010.

    Playing chicken with the debt ceiling may be the catalyst we need to rein in this out of control federal spending.

    Or we can join all the ‘business as usual’ s and follow them right off of a cliff.

    The pain has to come some time. We are long past amputating a pinky to stop the gangrene, past the forearm and into the entire arm. And that is the best case right now. Any pain that is inflicted now will only get worse down the road.

    Stop the insanity. This would be a great start, show what cuts you are willing to make, start with the easy ones that will be wonderful to watch the Dems keep on defending the funding, and lets keep it going.

  7. Playing chicken with the national economy to make a political point is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible.

    Yes it is. But with the debt ceiling several months away, the ones trying to avoid it now aren’t the ones playing it. It’s the ones deliberately chosing to do nothing in hopes that the other side will flinch when the time comes.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    I see Jay, Swift and Dave have finally come out and admitted they aren’t really conservatives, but radicals. No conservative would take the kind of risk you are advocating for.

  9. Jay Tea says:

    Never said I was a conservative, Ben — I prefer the term “militant moderate.” But then let’s turn it around on you — what would YOU set as the absolute debt ceiling? What measures would YOU advocate to deal with the situation? At what point would YOU say “NFW” to piling on more and more and more debt?

    Gotta stop sometime. And I don’t think you can make the case that kicking it even further down the road, and piling up more and more, will actually make things better.

    J.

  10. sam says:

    ” start with the easy ones that will be wonderful to watch the Dems keep on defending the funding, and lets keep it going.”

    What makes you think only the Dems would defend the spending? The Queen of the Tea Party in Congress, that would be Michelle Bachmann:

    Rep. Michele Bachmann said on Tuesday that transportation earmarks shouldn’t be called earmarks. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Bachmann said there should be a “redefinition” of the concept of earmarks. Bachmann has been a vocal opponent of earmarks and praised Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pledge on Tuesday to forgo the earmarking process.

    “Advocating for transportation projects for ones district in my mind does not equate to an earmark,” she told the Strib.

    “I don’t believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark,” Bachmann said. “There’s a big difference between funding a tea pot museum and a bridge over a vital waterway.”
    [Source]

    Then, of course, there’s the fact that the Republicans ran on a platform of “saving Medicare” from those awful cuts in the health care act.

    When the Republicans move to cut entitlements, check back with us. If they do that, then I’ll believe they’re serious about cutting spending.

  11. wr says:

    Let’s see Dems defending the funding? Ok — because we’re not talking about closing national parks here. No more money means no more money. No more Medicare payments to doctors. No more social security checks. No paychecks to our armed forces. No fuel for the Air Force. No TSA security at airports. Heck, that won’t matter — no air traffic controllers.

    Unless, of course, the freedom patriots out there demand everyone work for free. Which is pretty much Libertarianism at its heart — I get to do whatever I want and everybody else has to make sure that happens. But I’m not convinced the rest of America is willing to enslave themselves so that Zels keeps getting his unemployment checks as the country circles the drain.

    And the morons think this will be instructional somehow. I’m pretty sure they’re right — but not in the way they think.

  12. Jay Tea says:

    wr, for someone who denounces conservatives as being simplistic, you’re being incredibly, stupidly, black and white.

    What you’re trying to do is pretty much what Obama called “hostage-taking,” but it’s far more accurate against you.

    You’re threatening to do all that, just so you can keep on spending more and more and more money that we don’t have? So the federal government can just keep borrowing and borrowing money?

    Go ahead, wr. Tell us how 14.3 TRILLION isn’t that bad, and we can afford to take on more debt, and it’ll be easier to pay it down when it’s 15 trillion… or 16 trillion… or 20 trillion…

    J.

  13. wr says:

    Jay Tea — I’m not threatening to do anything, nor am I making any judgments about the levels of debt. (But wait, I will — all this hysteria about the debt is nonsense ginned up by right wing frauds to ensure the steady transfer of wealth from the mddle class to the rich, as witnessed in Ireland.) And I’m not holding anyone hostage. I am going by what Republican Bruce Bartlett warns about a government that is simply out of cash.

    And PS — Even if I were gullible enough to buy the debt-as-doom scenario, it wouldn’t take me long to figure out that if we don’t raise the debt ceiling, we default on our bonds, which is going to send the interest rates on our debts skyrocketing, which is going to cost us a fortune, which is going to — ready for this? done the math yet? — increase the debt.

    Failing to raise the debt ceiling does nothing to bring the debt down. It’s the congressional equivalent of holding your breath until your face turns blue — except that the spoiled chilldren here have the potential to do vast harm to the country.

  14. steve says:

    “You’re threatening to do all that, just so you can keep on spending more and more and more money that we don’t have?”

    Why is this a threat? If we do not have the money, how do we pay those bills? What would this do to treasuries and the credit market? Why not lower the debt in a controlled and thoughtful manner that would maintain economic stability?

    Steve

  15. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Doug are you an expert in economics too? If your worth as an attorney was established you would not have so much time to blog. No one outside of this site gives a big fat rats behind what you think about what the GOP is going to do about the debt ceiling. If they want to get re-elected, they will do what they were sent to Washington to do. That is stop the spending and reduce the size of government. You make a fine Democrat Doug.

  16. Jay Tea says:

    Failing to raise the debt ceiling does nothing to bring the debt down.

    Thank you, Captain Obvious. But holding the line while imposing spending cuts WILL.

    Hey, here’s a thought: about half of the 787-billion “stimulus” money hasn’t been spent. Why not throw that at the debt to buy us a little more time?

    And Bartlett? Thoroughly eviscerated. http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/06/bruce_bartletts_intellectually.html

    Thanks for playing. And be sure to skip the bill — your grandkids will be delighted to pick up the tab. They’re used to it from you.

    J.

  17. Axel Edgren says:

    The best way to convince Americans to demand less spending? Create another crisis!

    Also, trying to eviscerate someone with an American Thinker piece is like eviscerating someone with a butter knife. Made out of wood.

  18. steve says:

    “And Bartlett? Thoroughly eviscerated.”

    Wow! Did you read that? The author is unhappy that Bartlett thinks Tea PArty people are mostly social conservatives. There is zero mention of economics. I would again stress that a party which claims the mantle of fiscal responsibility and continues to avoid the issue of Medicare spending is not fiscally responsible.

    Steve

  19. wr says:

    Oooh, some clueless ideological moron doesn’t like Bruce Bartlett because he didn’t bow down to the almighty Tea Party. Heck of an argument you’ve got there, Jay.

    Still waiting for those massive cuts to the federal buget, by the way. You know, the ones that can be so easily made and even more easily identified. So far, maybe you’re up to half of one percent. So clearly, you’re almost there.

  20. Doug Mataconis makes clear by his closing sentence that he has accepted the premise that the Democrats are the responsible ones and the Republicans are the bomb throwers. I have yet to see any Democrat nor any Republican advocate for a suspension of US government debt payments. The Democrats are advocating for an increase in the debt ceiling and a continuation of spending as usual. Mataconis is advocating in favor of that. The (Tea Party) Republicans are saying “Hold on there”. They want to discuss taxes and spending and it is pretty clear that they are going to spend the next 2 months doing just that. IMO the Democrats will spend the next 2 months not producing a budget (e.g. spending) plan that House Republicans (Tea Party and establishment alike) can agree to thereby engaging in the very same game of chicken that they are accusing the Republicans of.

    How well will John Boehner fare come March 1st considering that by Tea Party standards he is a squish Republican? If he caves in when it comes to spending and taxing as usual he will certainly earn the enmity of Tea Party members in Ohio.

    This promises to be a very educational two months.

  21. Axel Edgren says:

    “The Democrats are advocating for an increase in the debt ceiling and a continuation of spending as usual.”

    They are advocating that causing another financial upheaval and shutting down the government is not the best way to rein in spending.

    “The (Tea Party) Republicans are saying “Hold on there”. They want to discuss taxes and spending and it is pretty clear that they are going to spend the next 2 months doing just that. ”

    They are saying “Hold on there” and then point a gun towards the entire international fiscal world. They are ideological to the point of utter disproportion. You don’t stop a speeding car in an intelligent manner by driving it into a populated building and hoping the building and its residents will provide enough stopping power. Genius.

  22. Jay Tea says:

    Axel, please. That gun is going to be pointed at our heads at some point. The longer we wait, the bigger the gun. (Metaphor doesn’t quite translate, but you chose it.)

    The Democrats have had four years to try to show the slightest bit of responsbility. Hell, this last year, they didn’t even bother to START a budget process.

    It’s coming. I don’t want to see it getting worse and worse and worse — because that’s what’s been happening for the last four years.

    And you’re OK with that.

    How?

    J.

  23. narciso says:

    What part of a 14.3 trillion dollar debt (and that’s nowhere near the total liabilities,) we don’t have
    the money, saying we can borrow more, what is the point in that.

  24. Axel Edgren says:

    “That gun is going to be pointed at our heads at some point. The longer we wait, the bigger the gun.”

    Pulling the trigger is kind of irrevocable. An approaching firing is a better disincentive than an approaching bullet.

    This is not some “rip off the band-aid” quickly situation. This is augmenting and compounding a great recession because you idiots are scared of big numbers.

    “I don’t want to see it getting worse and worse and worse — because that’s what’s been happening for the last four years.”

    Last 40 years, more like. Republicans are mostly to blame, as they have cut more taxes and reduced spending less. Democrats have increased spending but raised taxes accordingly. One party is being very retarded, one is not being so retarded.

    But not raising the debt ceiling would disrupt the entire system based on US bonds being extremely secure. This is about more than deficits.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    This is actually a pretty good test. “Solving” the problem by refusing to raise the debt ceiling would have roughly the same effect as “solving” your personal financial crisis by refusing to pay your bills. (Futile attempt to head off spurious flames: note that I didn’t say the actions were equivalent, only the effects.) Even talking about doing such a thing can cause catastrophy. Any politician who advocates this is automatically in the dangerous idiot camp.

  26. AE,
    Neither the Tea Party nor the average American commiserate with your chorus line of “The Republicans did it!” Prior states of retardation are no excuse. As I mentioned above there will be two whole months for Obama and the Senate Democratic Party majority to fashion a budget (spending) plan. There is nothing stopping them from presenting a plan. Likewise there is nothing preventing Boehner and company from providing a plan but I imagine they aren’t likely to tip their hand as to what they are planning to take a pocket knife to before the question is ripe. Those who support the status quo will continue their wild hysterics claiming that the Republicans have a jet fuel powered chain saw while most Republicans will say “What chain saw? We don’t have any chain saw!” (Rand Paul [KY] and Mike Lee [UT] may have an axe in their closet but they aren’t ready to show off its shiny beauty quite yet.)

    I am not looking forward to having the US government spend more. I want the US government to spend less and step one is warning everybody that yesterday’s status quo no longer applies. As I mentioned above I don’t know of anybody in Congress that is advocating in favor of outright repudiation of the US government debt. Those in favor of unsustainable spending are screaming that the debt ceiling must be raised. Those who favor reduced spending are simply letting everybody know that historical spending rates are no guarantee of future spending rates. You have been notified.

  27. steve says:

    “Likewise there is nothing preventing Boehner and company from providing a plan but I imagine they aren’t likely to tip their hand as to what they are planning to take a pocket knife to before the question is ripe.”

    Why not? If they really have a plan, they should present it for debate. Why keep it secret?

    Steve

  28. An Interested Party says:

    “This promises to be a very educational two months.”

    Indeed…please do everything you can to make sure that every “squish” Republican is primaried in 2012…it’ll do wonders for the country…

    “I want the US government to spend less…”

    Anyone who believes this, do tell where you want those cuts to come from…not relatively minor things like earmarks or closing the Department of Education, but substantial cuts, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense…do tell us what you would do…

  29. wr says:

    Um, Thane? You do know that Republicans will have the majority in the House, and therefore have the responsibility of coming up with a budget? The game you’re describing was possible when they were in the minority and didn’t care about destroying this country to get power, but now they actually have power and they’ve got no place to hide.

    And if all the American people want the government to spend less, why would Boehner hide his plan? If it’s going to be so popular, why isn’t he shouting it from the treetops?

  30. Davebo says:

    “Neither the Tea Party nor the average American commiserate with your chorus line of “The Republicans did it!””

    What was the federal debt on January 2, 2001?

    What was it in January 2008?

    How many centuries did it take the US to create a debt equal the amount of debt added during that brief period? And we aren’t talking adjusted for inflation dollars but good old dollar to dollar comparisons.

    Face it, you and your pointed hat patriot buddies watched the debt almost double in 8 short years and said nary a word.

    So why don’t you do us a favor and put your head back in the sand for another 8 years or so.

  31. Steve,
    You have a fine point there. So far the only agreed upon plan is to continue US government spending at past levels for the next two months. I imagine that it is going to take at least 10 days for Rand Paul and the rest of the (real) Tea Party folks to get settled into their new offices and residences. Add another week for John Boehner to make the rounds of newly elected House Republicans asking “Are you really as radical as you claimed?” The answer for some of them will be “No John, I’m not a radical.” Once he has a week determining what the ideological center of gravity is and after averaging Ron “Chain Saw” Paul [TX} with Don “What scurvy knave said I had a butter knife” Young [AK] along with the other 200+ House Republicans he will start making plans (and announcing them when he feels inclined) for the remaining 1.5 months.
    All anybody can really know at the moment is that the Democrats have been content with kicking the can down the road a bit and that the Republicans don’t yet have a plan they are willing to publicize yet. I have just a bit of hope (and only just a bit) for newly elected Republican from AZ-5 David Schweikert but I pretty much presume that he is several shades closer to being a butter knife Republican than a chain saw Republican. I would be happy to be disappointed but the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Let’s see how the pudding tastes over the next 2 weeks.

  32. An Interested Party,
    A: The immediate elimination of the Department of Education.

    WR,
    I agree that it is up to Boehner and the Republicans to present a budget. However not being John Boehner and not being a Republican I see no reason the Democrats can’t present a budget if they were inclined to.

    Davebo,
    I’ve advocated for less US government spending since I was 18. The folks with their heads deepest in the sand are those who are screaming the loudest for a debt ceiling increase. Again, past Republican and Democratic states of retardation is no longer going to be accepted as a reason to continue kicking the budget can down the road. There will be a day of reckoning but it hasn’t arrived yet. The folks in charge of budgeting (e.g. spending) are giving everybody notice that the ship is going to change course. Like I mentioned above Boehner and company aren’t quite ready to tell the rest of us what our new destination is (mainly because it will be at least 3 weeks before they really know themselves). Even then we don’t know if USS America will end up spending time in France, the Netherlands or Fiji. All I know is that it looks like we will be visiting ports we haven’t visited lately. When it comes to government I don’t claim to be the all knowing meteorologist. All I do is make forecasts. Some or all of them may end up being way off base.

    Of course it all could be a giant con from beginning to end. Boehner could be scheming with Obama on how to shaft the American taxpayers and have them thank Boehner for the privilege.

  33. Tano says:

    “The folks with their heads deepest in the sand are those who are screaming the loudest for a debt ceiling increase. ”

    Actually, no one is screaming for a debt ceiling increase, because everyone knows that it must pass, and so will pass. There are quite a few lefties who are talking about the issue as they try to goad the tea partiers into ever more ridiculous stances – with good effect.

    “Of course it all could be a giant con from beginning to end.”

    It barely rises to the level of a “con”. How dumb do you have to be to think that Boehner or any of the half-grownups in the party are actually going to allow the nutcases to drive the country into bankruptcy?

  34. An Interested Party says:

    “A: The immediate elimination of the Department of Education.”

    Thank you for proving how unserious you are when it comes to balancing the federal budget…

    “All anybody can really know at the moment is that the Democrats have been content with kicking the can down the road a bit…”

    Oh absolutely! Because we all know how it was the Democrats who controlled the federal government thoughout the last decade…thank you once again…

    “Boehner could be scheming with Obama on how to shaft the American taxpayers and have them thank Boehner for the privilege.”

    See, some Tea Party types already distrust Boehner…how delicious…

  35. Tano,
    Since nobody can force the federal government to do anything there will be no bankruptcy. The federal government has the ability to pick and choose who to pay unless you think the UN is going to step in.

    An Interested Party,
    Calling my suggestion unserious is another way to say that you don’t like it. That doesn’t mean it won’t be discussed and doesn’t prevent it from being adopted. A great many US House campaigns in 2010 were won on three issues, scrap Obamacare, stop the taxes and stop the excessive government spending. If you think voters wanted to keep the US Department of Education then you were one of the few who were outvoted by the rest of us.
    As for can kicking, again, it makes no difference to me or most 2010 voters if the people who piloted the ship USS America towards the current 14 trillion dollar federal debt had a red hat or a blue hat. We don’t care about hat colors. Americans want a new direction and that direction might not include a Department of Education.
    As for John Boehner, you bet I am skeptical and distrustful of the guy. He voted for TARP. That already proves he is either a sucker or complicit in the bailout of AIG/Goldman Sachs. If I were an Ohio voter in 2012 the only question I would have come election day would be “Has Boehner wised up or he is another Arlen Specter in the making?”

  36. narciso says:

    Well the Dems didn’t present a budget in 2010, then they cobbled something together with the’lame duck session’

  37. Axel Edgren says:

    “Neither the Tea Party nor the average American commiserate with you -”

    No, you’re not a very smart people.

    ” Those who favor reduced spending are simply letting everybody know that historical spending rates are no guarantee of future spending rates.”

    I urge you to try. If you don’t raise the debt ceiling like I tell you to you will be very sorry, but you probably will see sense and submit to reality. Either way I derive some enjoyment out of it.

  38. Au contraire, it is those who wish to continue unsustainable government spending, borrowing and taxing that are failing to “see sense and submit to reality”.

  39. Alex Knapp says:

    I don’t see why we can’t just let the market decide when the U.S. is borrowing too much. Right now, interest rates on T-bond are absurdly low, indicating a great deal of confidence by investors that the United States is good for its debts.

    Why don’t conservatives trust the free market?

  40. An Interested Party says:

    “Calling my suggestion unserious is another way to say that you don’t like it.”

    Not really…the Department of Education is quite small in comparison to other parts of the federal budget…it’s as if you advocated stopping a massive flood by using one sandbag…if you were actually serious about wanting to cut spending, you would make suggestions that have real weight, such as cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense…

    “As for can kicking, again, it makes no difference to me…if the people who piloted the ship USS America towards the current 14 trillion dollar federal debt had a red hat or a blue hat.”

    And yet, you are only blaming those with a blue hat for this…a real inconsistency on your part…

  41. Wayne says:

    “If you are not for doubling, tripling, whatever the debt ceiling then you are a nut case, fanatic, etc.”

    Try again. The name calling and put downs no longer fly.

    “If we can’t borrow then we can’t spend any money”.

    Unless debt interest on already borrow money is greater than the government income that is nonsense. If that is true then we are in a world of hurt. A better explanation is maybe you one of those spoiled people who think if they can’t spend more lavishly than what you did last year then you are broke. Simply not true.

    It is time to face reality. Lavishly spending and thinking you have unlimited credit cards need to come to an end.

    From what I hear they may agree to a slight rise in debt ceiling but they want spending to be cut back to at least 2008 levels. 2008 was not that long ago. I for one would call for even further cuts than that.

  42. wr says:

    So Wayne — What are you going to cut? I mean, aside from the Department of Education and the “w’aste, fraud and abuse.” You say we need to slash the budget. What are you cutting?

    So far not a single “conservative” has been willing or able to answer this simple question. Maybe you are more intellectually honest than the rest.

  43. Wayne says:

    WR
    I as have many others have stated our plans over and over. You choose not to listen. Probably because you don’t agree with them. Claiming we don’t have them is just outright false.

    A good jumping point would be 2008(2006) spending levels with anything lower than that staying there. That in itself would decrease federal spending by approximately 17% or better. Department of education, jobless benefits and many other similar programs need to be greatly cut or eliminated. Any additional spending would have to be paid for with “spending” decreases in other areas.

    That would be a pretty good start. I as others have a good deal more ideas on how to balance the budget. I have posted some of them before.

    However I suspect once again you will ignore them and claim none of us have a plan.

  44. wr says:

    Wayne — Saying you’re reducing spending to 2008 levels says nothing about where you are going to cut. I’m glad you’re willing to admit you want to slash unemployment benefits — at least you’re honest enough to say you want to make the worst off among us suffer. What other similar programs should be cut?

    And while we’re on the subject, what do you think of the Arizona government killing its citizens by cutting off payments for transplants?

  45. Wayne says:

    Wr
    How can you claim it doesn’t say where I want to cut? It is almost a cut across the board. If Congress’s salaries, the education, energy, or whatever department’s budgets increased over that period then their budgets get cut. If their budget went down it stays there. As I said that is the starting point. If an increase in one area is needed then a reduction in another area must happen.

    The government is a large beast. Making cuts in on little area will not solve the problem. If you want a specific dollar amount for a specific department, research what increase in budgets have occurred and you will have it.

  46. An Interested Party says:

    “Making cuts in on little area will not solve the problem.”

    And yet the rallying cry for some around here is “Kill the Department of Education!”

    “It is almost a cut across the board.”

    Including Defense, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, at the same that taxes can’t be raised on the wealthy? It would be interesting to see how that would go…

  47. MarkedMan says:

    Wayne says:
    “… whatever department’s budgets increased over that period then their budgets get cut. ”

    So just to be clear here, you are saying this about Defense, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicaire? So, if, say, a million people became eligible for Social Security in the intervening time, they should be, I don’t know, thrown out? Or maybe, everyone on Social Security should have their benefits cut proportionally? But what about inflation? Not much of an issue now, but could be a bigger deal as the economy heats up. Or what about the fact that for people whose only retirement income is SS (for instance, those that put in 25-40 years at major American companies under the promise they were getting a pension but then the companies trashed the pension fund and now they have nothing)? Should those people have their monthly income cut by the same amount as those that have a million bucks in the bank?

    I understand your desire for simplicity. But these are not simple issues. Here’s an analogy. In the 70’s and 80’s, GM mandated that every department had to cut 10% of the cost of their parts. For complex things like the engine and air conditioner, hard work and intelligence cut the equivalent of “waste, fraud and abuse” and bingo, they had their savings. For things like knobs and pieces of trim, not so much. The only recourse was to go to cheaper materials or less of it, or fewer fasteners. Therefore I remember the US cars of the 80’s as being pieces of junk with knobs that fell off in your hands, levers that broke ten days after the warranty expired, and trim sproinging off onto the road. In fact, I can still remember how common it was back then to see pieces of faux chrome trim lying by the side of the road. If GM had only asked the engine people for 10.1% cuts, and left the knobs and trim alone, I might be able to bring myself to buy an American car today.

  48. Wayne says:

    Social Security is funded by FICA tax. Some became eligible and some have gone off. It has its own budget. If it can’t support itself then yes benefits need to be adjusted. If people were foolish enough to have relied on the Government for their retirement then they need to take responsibility for their actions or lack of. Remember Social Security is a government ran retirement program. Is it no wonder they have screw it up. Now people want the Government to run Healthcare.

    Certain departments like Defense and Security agencies may need an increase in budget. However they need offset by cutting something else. In other word they need to prioritize. Just like anyone else who needs to fix their budgets.

    AIP
    You need to start somewhere. Why not start with the obvious. You act like that is the only area we suggest cutting. You pretend that we say if you cut on the Department of education, the budget is fix. Obviously not true. So please stop lying about what we suggest.

  49. wr says:

    Wayne says: “If people were foolish enough to have relied on the Government for their retirement then they need to take responsibility for their actions or lack of.”

    So Wayne — We the people — through our government — made the promise to pay social security, and took money out of every paycheck to make that possible. But if we decide to stop paying, it’s the fault of the suckers who took us at our word?

    Yeah, I want to do business with someone as honest and honorable as you. And as kind-hearted: “Who cares if Granny dies in the street? It’s her fault for expecting what was promised.”

  50. MarkedMan says:

    Wayne, first you say that you want a blanket, across the board reversion to 2008. Then you say, no of course not, you have to “prioritize”. This brings us back to the original challenge to you: what are your priorities? What would you cut? By how much? What would you save? And if you want to increase defense spending (!!!! Remember, it’s bigger than the next twenty nations combined!), which accounts for about a third of all expenditures, you will have to cut, very, very, very deep into everything else.

    BTW, You are right. SS is self funding. It isn’t in trouble now, but is projected to have a small deficit in the future as the baby boom bump hits retirement. Relatively small changes now should take care of that. It’s Medicare that is spiraling out of control with no end in site.

  51. An Interested Party says:

    “So please stop lying about what we suggest.”

    No one is lying about what you suggest…rather, you should make better, more coherent suggestions….

  52. MarkedMan says:

    In the interest of fairness, I’ll give my priority list:
    1) Cut defense by 5% each year for the next four years, with special emphasis on
    a- cutting new weapons systems that are designed to out compete the next weapons systems coming from the USSR (which has been gone for a couple of decades and is no longer developing new weapons systems), b- combining the three air forces we have, c – eliminating, wherever possible, contractors and return these functions to US service members, d – significantly cutting our presence in Europe, e – taking a hard look at our naval assests, which seem to be heavily weighted towards keeping our carriers safe from nuclear powers, something which it is unlikely they would be able to accomplish.

    2) Gradually eliminate farm subsidies to large farming corporations (and build in safeguards to prevent “small farm clumping”)

    3) Eliminate corporate subsidies to consistently profitable industries such as oil and gas.

    4) Allow government run health care (medicare and medicaid) to negotiate prices with drug companies.

    5) Eliminate loop holes (i.e. tax simplification) without offset and set a goal of 3% of total revenue per year for the next ten years. Put half the revenue towards the deficit and the other half towards lowering the overall rates.

    6) Return the tax rates to those of the nineties and make them continuous rather than quantum in nature (we can assume everyone has a calculator today).

    I could come up with more, but the point is, I’m putting it out on the table. I don’t think my ideas can get passed as they stand, but incremental progress on any or all of them would be a net good. And at least I’m stating what I stand for.

  53. Wayne says:

    Many of us “we the people” have said for a long time the Government and its overspending habits are not to be trusted. We tried to allow at least part of a person’s Social Security payment to be put into private accounts and take it away from the irresponsible government. The Democrats block it. So don’t accuse us for not keeping you and your kind promises. We knew better from the get go as we do with the Democrats Health Care program.

    Let us liberals spend outrageous amount of money and when it can’t be sustain, they will claim it was those who warn oppose it fault while pulling every heartstring along the way to get those spending levels. Yeah what honorable people you liberals are.

  54. Wayne says:

    MarkedMan
    Re read what I said. I said across the board reversions is the starting point. If anything is increase after that then it needs to be offset. If there is no offset then there is no increase. Why is that so hard to understand?

    Your mentality that you can’t start department budgets at 2008 levels then make adjustments within pay as you go rules is asinine.

    I’m all for doing way with research grants and subsidies.

    Do away with Obama care.

    Do away with Department of education.

    Go back to 6 months unemployment benefits.

    Do away with some of the more exotic or unneeded road and bridge projects.
    Cut Congress and the Presidents travel and operating expenses.

    Downsize and prioritize the EPA functions.

    NASA is doing state department work, cut them to the bone.

    Cut out all funds to NPR, arts etc.

    Cut the Pell Grants and such in half.

    Many more cuts to be had out there.

    In addition Medicare and Social Security are Government inefficient ran behemoths. They need to be revised and made much more efficient. Partial privatization would help out quite a bit. Lawsuit reforms need to be done. Energy exploration and exploitation needs to be increase.

    Also do away with many unnecessary regulations and get out of the way of good sound business practices. Growing the economy while holding down expenses will solve our debt problems.

  55. matt says:

    Wayne : You do realize that part of the problem with the stock market crashing oh not so long ago was that it wiped out millions of retirement accounts right? So your solution is to invest even more of people’s retirement money into this potentially devastating failure? I find it interesting that keeping your money safe = inefficient and wasteful while destroying your retirement savings = good (cause it’s privatized?)..

    Who would administer pell grants and such with the elimination of the department of education?

  56. john says:

    I find it interesting that, on the one hand, Doug often complains that it’s likely going to be Business As Usual with the new Republican-led House, then starts complaining when it appears that it might NOT be business as usual.

    Leave the ceiling alone. Lower the spending floor.

  57. anjin-san says:

    So Wayne, you want to go after education, health care and the arts, but not a peep about military spending. Guess you are right, who needs that other stuff as long as we can destroy the world 50 times over?

  58. anjin-san says:

    > Let us liberals spend outrageous amount of mone

    Perhaps you can link us to the many posts you no doubt made while Bush was spending with both hands during his vast expansion of the size and power of the federal government. You did make them, right?

  59. Wayne says:

    Matt I bet those with retirements funds are still much happier than those relying on SS.

    Pell grants can be granted by proportion to the States and they can administer them.

    Anjin
    Go back and look at my post .I complained about the government overspending during, before and after the Bush years.

    One of the main needs and purpose of the Federal Government is the protection of the U.S. The military is a very big part of that. They need to fulfill that primary obligation before they start into the feel good non-obligatory stuff.

    If it can be shown that there are military expenses that we don’t need, yes they can be cut. However this attitude of we need cut so let us look at the military first and only is B.S. The hippy attitude of taking all military spending and spend it on the arts and what not is asinine.

    It amazes me that many of the ones who claim on the one hand we have such a dominant and massive military then claim we a strain, overextended, under equip or incapable of taking on another mission such as fighting Russia in Georgia, Haiti relief or whatever crises that happens pop up.

    The problem with many is they want to fight the last battle instead of making preparation for the next battle. Also they complain and throw fits like little children when the military is 100% prepared for the next battle.

  60. wr says:

    Isn’t it amusing to watch Wayne grow more and more illiterate as he actually puts forward his spending cuts?

    No shock he wants to do away with Pell grants and the Department of Education. Apparently leaving school after third grade worked out for him..

  61. matt says:

    Yeah dude they are totally happy about having their funds disappear and upset that they have to rely on SS now…

  62. matt says:

    So you want to replace one government bureaucracy with 50 of them. I’m sure that will save money and be more effective…