With Congressional Republicans throwing in the towel over raising the debt ceiling, now would be a good time to end this silly and potentially destructive ritual.
In case you missed it Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner recently announced that the GOP would be dropping its plans to hold the world economy hostage over raising the debt ceiling and instead will allow a vote for a “clean” increase as President Obama has demanded.
This is a pretty big surrender for those in the House GOP who had demanded that Congress link raising the debt ceiling to passing conservative policy items that president Obama would never otherwise agree to sign into law. Past items included things like demands that Obama agree to massive cuts in government spending or to repeal his signature health care law. In fact as recently as Monday Republicans wanted to link raising the debt ceiling to repealing reductions to cost of living adjustments to military pensions that were passed by Congress just a few months ago.
Now that’s all over, and instead a so called “clean” debt ceiling bill will be passed by using Democratic votes and a small number of Republican moderates to get a bare majority in the House. Something that many experts had been saying the GOP would have to do all along.
The debt ceiling wars were big fun in Washington, there were unconventional policy ideas, grandiose political posturing, and the fact that a crisis with a big countdown clock is more fun than some boring one without one. But for all the fun and games this never ending series of crises has created a very real human cost. The Treasury Department issued a report in the fall that outlined the effects of the first round of the debt ceiling game of chicken and they were not good,
“…consumer and business confidence fell sharply, and financial markets went through stress and job growth slowed. In 2011, U.S. debt was downgraded, the stock market fell, measures of volatility jumped, and credit risk spreads widened noticeably.”
Which is another way of saying the struggling economy suffered a major setback because of a self-created national crisis.
Personally I hope that Congress will defuse this whole problem by ending the tradition of separate votes for spending money and borrowing money to pay for said spending. If Congress wants to cut spending in the future they can do so the old fashion way by passing budgets that spend less money. Less fun for the media I suppose, but it will be better for the country.
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Photo by Susan Walsh/AP