The House on Thursday voted to allow the government to go $1.9 trillion deeper in debt — or about $6,000 more for every U.S. resident. The measure, approved 217-212, would raise the cap on federal borrowing to $14.3 trillion. That's enough to keep Congress from having to vote again before the November elections on an issue that is feeding a sense among voters that the government is spending too much and putting future generations under a mountain of debt to do it.
Already, the accumulated debt amounts to roughly $40,000 per person. And the debt is increasingly held by foreign nations such as China.
Passage of the bill would send it to , who will sign it to avoid a first-ever, market-rattling default on U.S. obligations.
"I can't think of a more reckless or irresponsible act. Defaulting is not an option," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "If the , investors will lose confidence that the U.S. will honor its debts in the future.
Democrats barely passed it through the Senate last week over a unanimous "no" vote from GOP members present.
And we have this half-arsed measure.
To help win passage, Democrats are also adopting — in a vote later Thursday afternoon — budget rules designed to curb a spiraling upward annual deficit — projected by Obama to hit a record $1.56 trillion for the budget year ending Sept. 30. The new rules would require future spending increases or tax cuts to be paid for with either cuts to other programs or equivalent tax increases.
Pay as you go, as this is referred to, is overrated. It doesn't do much. We don't need a pay as you go program. We need government to spend less money than it takes in period.
If the rules are broken, the White House budget office would force automatic cuts to programs like Medicare, farm subsidies and unemployment insurance. Current rules lack such teeth and have commonly been waived over the past few years at a cost of almost $1 trillion.
Most other benefit programs — including Medicaid, and food stamps — would be exempt from such cuts, and Republicans said that the rules lack teeth.
"In place of real fiscal discipline, it offers a phony pay-as-you-go rule that is more loopholes and exceptions and does nothing to tackle our government's long-term structural deficit," said , R-Texas.
Skeptics say lawmakers also will find ways around the new rules fairly easily. Congress, for example, can declare some spending an "emergency" — a likely scenario for votes later this month to extend for the long-term unemployed.
In other words, the supposed safeguards are smoke and mirrors. It was thrown in because this is unpopular, and those who voted for it can pat themselves on the back and say they are watching the spending. In reality, they are doing jack.
"We don't have a choice," said, D-Tenn. "We are on an unsustainable march toward a fiscal Armageddon." Obama's budget projects the government's debt doubling to $26 trillion over the next decade. It offers few solutions for seriously closing the gap other than promising to appoint a bipartisan commission to come up with a plan to address the problem.