Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hitting the Debt Ceiling

The budget battles in Washington right now is contentious, but there's one element where there seems to be significant agreement is the idea of raising the debt ceiling, the artificial limit on what Congress can spend. It seems as though most proposals to deal with the looming "default" of the US involve raising the debt ceiling so we can cover our bills.

Isn't that like continuing to raise the credit limit for a shopaholic?

The problem we face isn't one that can be solved by raising the debt ceiling. We have to address the reason why we continue to hit the debt ceiling, which is...spending too much. Raising the debt ceiling doesn't address the fact we keep hitting it by spending more and more.

This is where the budget battle gets me riled up. Democrats insist we need to raise taxes now and cut taxes over 10 years, and the Republicans insist we don't need to cut taxes and we need to spend less eventually. Neither one adequately addresses the spending issue because both plans agree to spending without really looking at making real cuts in spending.

At this point, I need to clarify a point. When Congress talks about "cutting spending," they talk about reducing the rate of proposed spending. To them, saying we should spend $1 billion instead of $2 billion is a spending cut. However, they're still spending $1 billion! That's not a spending cut; that's spending!

What I want are real spending cuts. Instead of promising to spend $1 billion instead of $2 billion, I want to spend $0, especially if it's money that goes to a failed or outdated government program like the Department of Education or Superfund. Additionally, there is wasteful spending on programs that actually do provide some benefit to us, like the military. Not even the "cost-cutting" Republican plans address that. I've been skeptical of the Republican budget cut proposals for that reason, and I doubt the Democrat proposal is any better.

Until we agree to stop spending and start saving money, we're going to keep hitting the debt ceiling and going through the same charade we are now.

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