Debt ceiling battle lines

A wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread. This is what Obama, with his fiscal cliff plan, threatens us with.
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The Democrats have drawn their battle lines on the debt ceiling debate. The Tea Party wants to know where the Republican lines are.

House to vote on debt ceiling

Tonight, at about 6:30 pm EDT, the House will vote on a bare-bones bill to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion with no commitment to cut spending. No one expects the measure to pass. 114 House Democrats demanded an “up-or-down vote” on a “clean” debt ceiling raise. They’re going to get their vote: “No.” Nearly all Republicans will vote against the bill, and the Democrats will split their vote.

Incredibly, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Maryland) this afternoon told his colleagues to vote the bill down. Why? He’s afraid of “a thirty-second ad attack.” That is telling. If the debt ceiling ought to rise, why not say so? If raising the debt ceiling is so vital that even the size of the debt does not matter, why not vote that way?

Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) was the man who gathered all those 114 signatures. He will vote for the bill anyway. He also called tonight’s vote a “political maneuver” and said that the House should “focus” on “problem solving.”

But you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. And the problem is that the government takes too much on itself and spends too much money doing it.

Why the Democrats want a “clean” debt ceiling rise

The Democrats will never admit this, of course. To them, the government spends too little, so long as they can find one unmet “need” to use other people’s money to turn into a vote. The message, from the White House down, is clear: keep spending! People need it!

And Hoyer should know about thirty-second ad attacks—or one-minute ad attacks. Or if he doesn’t, he should talk to his colleague Paul Ryan.

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Will Republicans stand firm?

At first glance, the Republicans look like the immovable object against the Democrats’ irresistible force. Or do they? This vote will be easy. But have they the courage to refuse to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances?

The Tea Party wants to know this. Talk of “chaos” in the financial markets doesn’t impress them. They know that without the authority to borrow money, the government will just have to cancel and cut back on its programs. Instead, they threaten to default on bond interest payments. News flash: the US government has been in technical default for forty years! On August 15, 1971, the government stopped redeeming US dollars for gold. More to the point: no one ever has unlimited credit. No one, that is, except a “sovereign government.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has offered a compromise: to cut spending by an amount equal to any debt ceiling rise. Not many years ago, no one would have proposed even that. Boehner did it this time only to show the Tea Party that he’s with them. Peter Welch answered with 114 signatures demanding tonight’s vote. So much for compromise.

If the debt ceiling does rise, that should worry bondholders more than keeping it where it is. How can they know that the government will ever pay them back? (The Arabs hold a lot of those bonds, and they might not wait. Neither might the Chinese.)

Even with the “substantial cuts” that Boehner talked about, any rise in the debt ceiling will show that the government still wants to keep borrowing. A consumer who finally decides to pay down his debt, does not ask his credit-card issuers to raise his limit. It’s time to tell the government: Limit rise disapproved.

UPDATE: The House rejected the debt ceiling rise, 97 to 318, with 7 members (all Democrats) voting present and nine (3 Republicans and 6 Democrats) not voting. (Among these: Representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, for reasons that everyone understands.) The 236 Republicans that voted, all voted nay. The Democrats who voted, split down the middle, with 97 yeas and 82 nays.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

21 Responses to Debt ceiling battle lines

  1. John says:

    In the hopes to avoid a potentially cataclysmic global credit meltdown, it is in the best interests of everyone to raise the debt limit. Should we not raise the debt limit nobody can be sure of what will happen, but the odds are high that it will be terrible, at least in the short term.

    I agree that spending should be cut. I have no problem with the government offering entitlement programs, a lot of people need those programs to get by, but I wish that the bureaucracy weren’t so crushing. Re-organizing government organizations so that they run more efficiently and with less people would save money, and no further cuts to programs would be necessary.

    Medicare (and by-extension Medicaid) have to continue to be given, as well as social security. If a political party decides to disrupt those programs, they can kiss the retired and elderly vote good-bye. I think universal, single-payer health care would save the average American citizen thousands of dollars a year over the current insurance system.

    The military is the single largest expenditure on the plate right now, and yet there is no talk of cutting back military spending. If the government could do to reign in spending on the military and end these wars and avoid starting anymore, many of our debt problems would go away. Bring all of our troops home, and pay them to defend our borders.

    Lastly, actually having a sensible tax rate for the wealthiest Americans would go a long way toward solving the debt problems. The richest Americans are, strange as it may sound, currently under-taxed. It is these billionaire elites that are stealing this country out from under the common man. The Koch brothers would make themselves kings over us all.

  2. TP 109 says:

    John misses a few points…there has in fact been much talk of cutbacks in the military. I suspect his inaccuracy on this covers for an anti-military posture anywhere. As usual John takes the liberal elitest line conflating billionaires with “Wealthy” which Liberal Dems define as anyone making over $250,000 or was that $150,000 Uncle Joe VP? And of course the culprits are the big bad Koch Brothers. Gee have I heard these Media Matters talking points before? I believe yes.

    Of course no mention that 47% of the people pay no federal income tax. Oh yes i know they pay payroll taxes as do most working paycheckers.

    I can go on but john has taken up all the progressive talking points…no solution to medicare going bust, and not raising the debt limit would be catastrophic immediately. But apparently revenues would still be enough to pay our biggest debts, including SS payments and Medicare. No instant default on our debt but don’t expect the media to tell us that.

  3. John says:

    I’ll agree that anyone making over $250,000 is not necessarily wealthy. Anyone making over a million, ten million, a hundred million, a billion or more, they should be taxed much more heavily. People making under a million a year should be treated as upper middle class, and shouldn’t be taxed as badly (especially small business owners). As it is, we haven’t been this under taxed since the 1920s, and we know how that ended.

    You only like the Koch brothers because you find their propaganda pleasing to the ear. They’d make you their slave if they could.

    Given companies like GE are paying NO taxes, and making billions, that would be a better place to go looking for money. Taxing the giant corporations fairly would solve many of our debt woes.

    It is political suicide to touch social security or medicare.

    Listen, TP 109, I’m not some super progressive liberal, I’m a christian and a registered republican. I just happen to try to listen to both sides. In this instance, there is some merit to what is being said by the left. This is how democracy is supposed to work, with a give and take, a discussion and ultimately a consensus. Declaring for one side or the other on all issues harms national solidarity.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Why should anyone pay any higher proportion of taxes than anyone else? What crime has anyone committed by making more money than anybody else?

      For that matter, why tax income? And why tax income out-of-proportion to the population of any given State? Don’t tell me that Amendment XVI says you can. I want to know why you should. I call for its repeal. Defend it if you can.

      “It is political suicide to touch Social Security or Medicare.” Ahem, ahem—is that a threat? By “threat” I don’t mean “of bodily harm,” but merely “of failure of re-election.” Social Security and Medicare are Ponzi schemes. They must inevitably collapse of their own weight. I don’t expect to receive a penny from either. I fully expect both programs to go belly up and tell me, “Sorry” when I go to file a claim. But you say that if anyone touches them, they will fail of re-election. Well, that’s too bad. We’ll just have to elect some suicide “touchers,” won’t we?

      “I’m not some super progressive liberal.” Aren’t you? You talk like one.

      You distort the history of the 1920s. Herbert Hoover set the things in motion that produced the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt kept us in depression, until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. What you forget was that after both World Wars, the particular Presidents that were around after the wars cut taxes and cut short two depressions that occurred immediately after each war. The Great Depression had nothing to do with World War One. If Hoover had Kept Cool as Coolidge, the Depression would never have occurred.

      Terry A. Hurlbut

      I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

      • John says:

        It’s a matter of necessity, Terry. The country is in debt to the point of absurdity. Yes, spending cuts are necessary, but raising tax revenues would be more effective. We have the money to tax, and if we spend it within our own borders once we pay off our debt, we’ll generate that circular economy that gets people off the streets, and keeps everyone well-fed, healthy and in a decent home.

        No one has, necessarily, committed any crime by becoming richer than anyone else. Rarely, however, do people become rich through their own kindness and charity. Most people become super wealthy because they’re cutthroats. The qualities we admire most in a person are not the qualities that make a person wealthy. The qualities we abhor in someone are usually what makes a person wealthy.

        A graduated income tax is the most progressive and forward thinking tax we have. A graduated income tax seeks to tax everyone fairly, according to what they’re able to give. The super rich can pay more than the poor, and if the poor had money worth taxing, they wouldn’t be poor. A graduated income tax does not result in a huge wealth disparity over time. Giant disparities in wealth are what make men kings, and that’s not American. A flat tax, while a nice idea, wouldn’t be able to generate the necessary revenues.

        I don’t know if I should have to tell you this, because I thought everyone understood this fact (most children can understand this): Governments have to collect taxes if they are going to operate. Unless you know of some way in which a government can operate with NO MONEY, this is a fact of life.

        Yes, having to pay taxes can be a pain, but on the other hand, our tax dollars are what make this nation strong. As much as I would rather have that money in my pocket, due to necessity I have to pay those taxes anyways. I take it as a point of pride that I’m able to contribute to the good of the country. Some small percentage of what I’ve paid into the system pays for the roads I drive on every day, and I’m glad to have been able to contribute. I take pride in my community and how I’ve helped fund, in at least some small way, its construction and maintenance.

        The political party that attempts to disrupt or dismantle social security or medicare will lose the elderly vote. This would kill the Republican party. Social Security and Medicare are not Ponzi schemes, and if you think otherwise, you don’t know how a Ponzi scheme actually operates.

        I try to talk like someone who listens to both sides and tries to stay polite and reasonable. I wish I could say the same for you. Calling people names is not in keeping with a good faith effort to maintain a civil tone and have a polite debate.

        Herbert Hoover went into office on March 4, 1929, after serving as Secretary of Commerce under Calvin Coolidge (a position he held from March 5, 1921 to August 21, 1928). Black Tuesday was October 24th, 1929. That’s eight months in office. Talking about what Coolidge would have done is pointless speculation. Franklin Roosevelt did not keep us in the depression until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor unless the Japanese attacked in 1939, when the depression ended, and nobody found out they had attacked until 1941, but we both know that wasn’t what happened. You’re the one who is distorting history here.

        I don’t recall ever saying that depression had anything to do with World War 1, since it doesn’t.

        You are not John Galt. No one is. John Galt is a made up character. Ayn Rand’s objectivism is a philosophy for people foolish enough or deluded enough to think that they are one of those people that makes the world go round. They’re not.

        As for this the gibberish in your quote, that statement doesn’t apply to anyone. People require a community to survive. Unless you grow all your own food, make your own clothes, get your own water, and build your own house, you have to rely on other people to survive. The rich and powerful are only rich and powerful because other people made them rich and powerful. If you own a company, you grow rich off the sweat from another man’s brow.

        • Alan DeVincentis says:

          I’m sorry John, but you are by definition, a progressive, liberal thinking man of the highest order. I’m not denigrating you, just stating an obvious fact. If I make a million dollars, I am in a better position to pay more for the good of the less fortunate. My God man, what do you call that? So at what point do I no longer have to pay “my fair share” to prop up those that need propping. If I make seven fifty, do I get “under the wire”? And by the way, John I am going to go way out on a limb here and state that the majority of people on public assistance of some sort need or are deserving of my government mandated charity you call the fair share. Through my own generosity and the generosity of others like me, those that are truly in need will be taken care of. Those that suck the teat of entitlements, undeservedly ( your suicide pill), should be cast aside. They will eventually find work or learn to survive, or they will die off as a natural state of their own stupidity and lack of work ethic. All can contribute, but it requires a certain amount of character. The reason our great nation has survived is not because of the great programs it affords those who need them, but the hard work and ingenuity of those who don’t. And again, my progressive liberal friend who somehow thinks he is a conservative, We do NOT live in a democracy. It is called a representative republic for a reason. Please look it up.

          • John says:

            Alex, I’m having trouble with some of what you’re trying to say (I have no idea what “the majority of people on public assistance of some sort need or are deserving of my government mandated charity you call the fair share” is supposed to mean), but let me respond to the points I can understand:

            “If I make a million dollars, I am in a better position to pay more for the good of the less fortunate. My God man, what do you call that?”

            I call that the truth. Go ahead and declare it some type of -ism if your ignorance demands it, but a fact is a fact.

            “Through my own generosity and the generosity of others like me, those that are truly in need will be taken care of.”

            A complete and total fabrication. America is only behind Mexico in rates of child poverty, so obviously what you’ve said isn’t true. Look it up.

            “Those that suck the teat of entitlements, undeservedly ( your suicide pill), should be cast aside. They will eventually find work or learn to survive, or they will die off as a natural state of their own stupidity and lack of work ethic.”

            So your answer is social Darwinism? Those born poor and denied an education deserve it? How frighteningly Calvinist. How frighteningly unconstitutional. Have you forgotten the Preamble?

            “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, *insure domestic Tranquility*, provide for the common defense, *promote the general Welfare*, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

            I was poor once, I couldn’t find a job, and while I’m ashamed to admit it, instead of starving to death, I broke into the houses and homes of rich people and stole to survive. Very few people are willing to just lay down and die. Many people will simply resort to crime if that seems like the only way to eat. Your whole “the lazy will die” theory doesn’t work out the way you imagine it does.

            I’d argue we live in a democratic republic, since while we have a republican government, we elect the people who serve democratically. You can call this a representative republic if you just cannot stand the word “democracy”, but you’re grasping at semantic straws.

          • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

            John:

            When you say, “If I make a million dollars, I am in a better position to pay more for the good of the less fortunate”, I call that extortion. “In a better position to” does not mean “should.”

            Your child poverty rates are the result of those same government policies that you espouse. You want production? You really want a better life for everybody? Then get out of the way and let those of us who can, produce.

            Where does the Constitution provide for the specific welfare of any one citizen or lawful resident at the expense of another?

            You cite the Preamble and the phrases “insure domestic tranquillity” and “promote the general welfare.” You misconstrue both phrases. Indeed your quote of the first phrase becomes a threat: “We shall be domestically stormy if you don’t ante up!”

            And last of all: You admit that you became a thief. You now propose that the government do the thieving for you. Did it ever occur to you that the government might have been the reason that you couldn’t find a job?

            Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.

            Ronald Reagan.

            I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

          • Phil says:

            I’m not going to say or argue whether or not we are taxed too much or not enough. I will say, however, that people generally do not do good by their fellow man simply by virtue that they made an enormous amount of money.

            One would need to look back to the robber barons of the 1800s for inspiration. Men like Rockefeller and Carnegie were great philanthropists later in their lives, but throughout their business careers, they mercilessly crushed people, even if they were only asking for fair treatment.

            Money doesn’t make people good or evil, it simply gives people the means to act as good or as evil as they desire.

    • Alan DeVincentis says:

      Probably a good thing we don’t live in a democracy,
      John.

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    • gerald says:

      we dont need to raise the bebt limit if we cut spending so much but we do need to keep our military strong and our border but unions will never allow the cut

  8. sid says:

    i want YOU to pay my taxes, and make sure, i don’t have to do anything, anymore!!! NOT!!! i don’t make much, but i will do what ever it takes, to make sure, this great country, “THE USA”, stays GREAT, for all the children, of the future!!! “CUT THE SPENDING”!!!

  9. Buzz says:

    Don’t raise the debt ceiling!! The Congress will find a way to pay the required debt payments to foreign governments by using incoming revenue and cutting, cutting, cutting spending. That is the only way they will be forced to cut many frivolous nanny state programs. Why are we providing annual foreign aid to over 13 countries that owns our debt, including China. It just don’t make sense. Use that money instead to pay off our foreign debt. Congressmen and Congresswomen supported by the Tea Party must hold Congress’s feet to the fire. We supported you and we will be watching.

  10. Raymond Babcock says:

    the american goverment has drug the american people through the mud the mess we find our selves was brought about by both the republicans and the democrats

  11. Abby says:

    Why do we have to raise the debt ceiling? We should not under any circumstances allow this to happen. The sky is falling down mentality if we do not raise it. Well, it’s about time the government tightens its belt and looks at ways to save money. be it through consolidation of departments, elimination of duplicative services, and export illegals back to their countries of origin.
    Support of these illegals alone would go far to reduce our national debt, instead the government insists on ignoring its laws.
    Stimulist packages to include another extension of unemployment, etc. IF this happens, no one will look for jobs. Why? Why should they go to work when they can get monies handed to them as well as all the benefits the government feels they should distribute. Well folks, the monies only go so far. Soon there will not be monies coming in to give to others. This process takes away a person’s respect and the desire to take care of themselves and their families. And then on top of that, we are paying for children being born simply for the money the government gives these breeders.
    We need to think outside of the box and give these people a helping hand up, not a hand out.
    When the ceiling gets raised, these problems escalate. Now the federal government has more monies to further instill slavery of its populace. All for the vote and control of the populace.
    our schools have dumbed down its students and are teaching socialism. What happened to the Republic and the Constitution?
    I guess this is why Palin and Bachman frighten both parties; the good old boys’ club doesn’t want females who they know would change the systemn back to where it belongs for the betterment of the people and not for the power and greed.
    the Tea PArty is an excellent idea; too bad it is being corrupted by RINOS and it is being debased by the media. As for me, the media is corrupt and extremely biased also. I take the news with a grain of salt. And it is still unpalatable.
    We do not need to raise the debt ceiling and if Boehner can’t follow through with what we people want then look out at election time. We are watching what our representatives are doing, what the federal government, unions and ACLU are doing and we have had enough.
    We need term limits; no federal income tax and then the government will have to use only the funding it receives. Let’s take a tough stand and stop this foolishness of the travesties that will befall us if the ceiling isn’t raised. The only travesty that will occur is that government will have to change its method of operating and it’s ab out time.
    God bless the USA

  12. Abby says:

    I forgot to mention, should the ceiling not be raised it would be harder for the federal government to sue States for them trying to protect their citizens since the government has absconded its duties. No ceiling increase, no extra dollars to sue States. Simple!!!

  13. […] now. It may not be as much fun sometimes, but it allows you to keep a close eye on your finances.It is a certain fact that where credit used to be the preserve of a few people with major disposable…the people who like to take out credit and get into difficulties, believing that society cannot do […]

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