The self imposed deadline of July 1 for the do-nothing Congress to pass a bill dealing with the debt ceiling and the national debt has passed. The real deadline of August 2 is approaching. Even if Congress found religion and agreed on a bill, it takes time to print it, pass in both Houses, and get it to the President to sign.
When Congress comes back to work, a generous description of what they actually do, the same old debate will begin. Republicans will refuse to violate their pledge made to their handler, lobbyist Grover Norquist, to never raise revenue. Democrats will insist on a balance of revenue increases and spending cuts. But, is the GOP position principal or politics?
Republicans have flip flopped on the debt ceiling depending on who proposes it (Obama too)
Republicans talk about refusing to raise the debt ceiling as if it were prohibited by the Ten Commandments. Their position seems to be one of situation ethics, however. The Progress Report in an article published on July 1 compiled statements by key Republicans on the debt ceiling made when Bush was President. They are all adamantly opposed to raising the ceiling now. It seems like they were for it, before they were against it.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in 2006 said:
“Raising the debt limit is necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Refusing to raise the We cannot as a Congress pass spending bills and tax bills and then refuse to pay our bills. debt limit is like refusing to pay your credit card bill–after you’ve used your credit card. The time to control the deficits and debt is when we are voting on the spending bills and the tax bills that create it. Raising the debt limit is about meeting the obligations we have already incurred. We must meet our obligations. Vote for this bill.”
Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in 2002 said:
“Now, how can somebody spend like a drunken sailor and then all of a sudden find religion when it comes to raising the debt limit? This is just like eating a big meal and walking out on the bill.”
Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) said in 2002:
“The result is that our government now needs to keep its promise to the American people, to all of various entitlement programs, but maybe most especially the program that that elderly woman asked about this morning. We must raise the statutory debt limit.”
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) said:
“You don’t have much choice if you charge something on your credit card. You have to pay it, and that’s effectively what this debt limit is . . . We’ve already spent the money. The question is now, do we shut down the government, or do we fund what we’ve already done?”
Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said recently:
Let me tell you what’s involved if we don’t lift the debt ceiling: financial collapse and calamity throughout the world.”
Former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) said:
“The debt’s coming due, and they [some Republicans in Congress] say it isn’t coming due. They’re wrong.”
So as we listen to the debate, we need to put the rhetoric in context. Politics trumps principal in Washington more often than not.
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