Why do we have a federal debt ceiling? The simple answer is because Congress and the President don’t trust themselves to be fiscally responsible. The people shouldn’t trust them either. We’re now in a constant cycle of growth of our national debt, and our present mode of government is: Republicans, who have very little power, try to be fiscally responsible, while Democrats do nothing whatever to reform entitlements or cut spending to prevent reaching the next ceiling. They want to raise taxes in their traditional tax and spend mode, so they can spend more. The deficit therefore keeps bumping against the ceiling. The debt grows even as our national economy shrinks.
Reaching the debt ceiling and having to raise it should be like a fire alarm – a call to action. However, we live in a country with no leadership. We have a Do-nothing President and and a Do-nothing Senate. As President Obama concludes his fifth year in office, we find he has done nothing to try to grow the economy. To the contrary, he and Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, have blocked many Republican initiatives from the House.
The much-maligned Tea Party is simply a movement of people who demand fiscal responsibility and have been aggressive in the House and to a lesser extent, in the Senate. Traditional Republicans want the same thing but aren’t willing to take political risk, so Republicans battle each other and work without a common purpose.
Democrats don’t want fiscal responsibility; they even argue that the deficit and the debt aren’t really a problem. Tax reform to get the economy going again? Forget it. Reducing federal regulations on business? No such initiatives from the Democrats. Entitlement reform? The President appointed the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which labored for a year and came up with modest reform proposals. Obama totally ignored their recommendations.
Entitlement programs are the main driver of the constant increase in the national debt and the need for raising the ceiling. The Democrats won’t touch Social Security or Medicare or Food Stamps with a ten foot pole, and have added the most massive entitlement of all time, Obamacare.
The only way we will ever see entitlement reform is if Democrats have no power in the government. We need a Republican House, Senate, and Presidency. Until that comes about, (and it may never come about) the federal debt will keep rising and we’ll keep on being fiscally irresponsible, perhaps bringing about a collapse of our economy.
I recommend raising the debt ceiling by ten billion dollars. That’s a lot of money: think about it. A billion dollars is one thousand piles of cash, each holding a million dollars. Ten billion is a huge sum indeed. Oops, I just realized, at the rate we’re spending, that’s less than a week of increase in our debt. Our debt is currently around 17 trillion dollars, or 17 million piles of cash each holding a million dollars.
But, let’s all just be like Obama and Reid: don’t worry about it. As W.C. Fields put it, “Start off every day with a smile and get it over with.”
While I’m doing quotes, how about this one: “Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
-- Frank Herbert, "Children of Dune"