Federal Debt 2013: Congress Refusing to Deal With the Debt Again

With the media still juicing the recent scandals, Congress trying to sort through them, and President Obama focusing on foreign policy, it's seems as though not many have noticed that the Treasury is now exercising "extraordinary measures" to maintain borrowing below the legal limit. While to you or I extraordinary measures may seem like something which should be big news, something that Congress and the President should be rushing off to fix right now to ensure we don't experience the "potentially catastrophic consequences" Jacob Lew warned of, for the time they aren't worried.  Thanks to a soon-expected windfall of cash, Congress figures they've got at least another three or four more months to kick the can on debt ceiling talks.

Where is this money coming from you ask?  Remember those two mortgage giants the federal government took over back in 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — it's coming from them. Both reported earlier in the month that they would soon be making dividend payments to the Treasury Department following periods of high earnings. Fannie Mae will pay $59.4 billion and Freddie Mac will pay $7 billion. On the one hand, it's great to see these companies profitable again and a promise of continuing return on our investment; on the other hand, this is a perfect example of how Congress is worse than a teenage girl with daddy's credit card. They haven't even received the money and it's already spent. In addition to the dividend payments, Congress lucked out with higher than expected revenues and lower spending.

Unfortunately, it looks like this will give Congress just enough money to get by until September or October and a continuing excuse not to attend to the issue of the debt ceiling. While some may be optimistic that Congress will have a sudden change of heart and deal with the debt ceiling before panic sets in this fall, there is little hope. First, there are a multitude of other issues that have been piling up, from immigration reform to tax reform, to the huge deadline in October to approve funding for the 2014 fiscal year.  Second, Congress does not have a good history of negotiating, getting things done, and ultimately doing what's best for the American people — providing a secure and stable environment in which to conduct business and have a family.  They have yet to produce a sensible plan for the automatic spending cuts that went in to place on March 1 and had an embarrassing showing last time the debt ceiling needed to be raised in the summer of 2011 (also, funnily enough, the reason for the automatic spending cuts in the first place).  Put bluntly, the American people cannot count on Congress.

This however, does not mean that We The People should just simply sit back and enjoy the summer sun. We must keep the pressure on our representatives and demand that they deal with the debt — phone, write letters, send e-mails, and tweet your congressmen. And though the media on the whole has ignored the issue as of late, it is up to us to perpetuate the debt conversation on the news, on social media, and at home with our friends and family. Yes, there are many other issues at hand for Congress, but the debt is not only the biggest threat to our future as a country, it is also perhaps the road to solving our other problems.

This article also appeared on the blog for The Can Kicks Back, a non-partisan, millennial-driven campaign to fix the national debt and reclaim our American Dream. For more visit www.thecankicksback.org

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Steph Blasnik

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