The House of Representatives approved a four-month suspension of the debt ceiling on Wednesday. House Republicans will claim to have accomplished something positive in the ongoing economic crisis our country faces. In reality, they have accomplished nothing of consequence except to keep our fiscal problems on the front page. By continuing to prattle on about how terrible this situation is, while refusing to do anything constructive about it, our congressional representatives are making the problem worse.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) seems to enjoy his extended moment in the sun that allows him to hold press conferences almost daily and claim the Democrats are to blame for being heavy handed. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) stated on Sunday that the debt ceiling is not a tool, and yet his party continues to use it as leverage against the Democrats. In the same appearance Blunt further said, "we need to look at what we can do to move the economy forward." We would be well served by Congress if they actually did that. Instead, they continue to bargain with chips that cannot be traded. The debt ceiling is not a negotiable instrument. It is an acknowledgement of our obligation to pay back money that we have already borrowed.
Spending is negotiable, revenue is negotiable. Refusing to allow the government to borrow needed funds to repay debt incurred as far back as the Bush administration is, quite simply, juvenile. Why is it that Republicans are only concerned with spending limits and tax rates when an opportunity to attack their colleagues across the aisle presents itself? We didn't suddenly go into debt after the election of a Democrat president; this is cumulative debt that extends back at least a decade. We went into debt because we spent money we didn't have. Congress spent that money, not Democrats, not President Obama; Congress.
By threatening to disallow an increase in our debt, we create uncertainty in our economy that impacts interest rates and investment decisions. Both of which contribute to stagnation of economic growth; exactly the situation they claim they're trying to prevent. It appears the Republicans' need for foot-stomping power grabs is more important than helping voters achieve a measure of financial stability.
Congress should explore and implement spending cuts. Not the mindless hacking of defense and social security threatened by sequestration but meaningful, sensible cuts. And we may need to raise taxes. Let that be the incentive to locate spending adjustments, not stupid, unrealistic threats to the world economy. These people have been sent to Washington to do a job. If they believe their job is to destroy the Democratic Party, they should re-read their oath of office or go home.
Let's take the debt ceiling off the table. If our debt is too high that is not the fault of our debtors. It is, however, the fault of the 535 men and women in Congress who have turned their backs on the American people in favor of sophomoric pledges to unelected lobbyists.