America's fiscal woes are coming front-and-center as the debate in Washington shifts to our debt and spending.
You do realize, don't you, that our reported debt as per the U.S. Treasury has been exactly $16,699,396,000,000 for four straight months? That just happens to be $25 million below the legal limit. The Treasury explains here how it has resorted to 'extraordinary measures” to maintain this limit. Needless to say, this cannot go on forever. Thus we are stuck with another battle to increase the debt ceiling.
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills.” That is not Senator Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or any other Republican in Washington DC today. That quote is from none other than Barack Obama in 2006. He went on to refer to rising debt as a “hidden domestic enemy,” which is “robbing” of us critical investments. Yet under his watch as president, Obama has already increased the national debt by over $6 trillion. And yet here he is … asking us to raise the limit once again.
In a speech yesterday to business leaders, Obama dismissed concerns about raising our debt limit: “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you've already racked up, Congress.” Yet as many have gone on to point out, isn't the fact that we've had to raise the ceiling 100 time evidence that our debt is, in fact, increasing?? After all, if we weren't increasing the debt then there would be no need to boost the ceiling.
What remains clear is that Washington has a spending problem, and the debt ceiling debate is evidence of this. Does anyone hear substantive debate on ways to cut federal spending, rather than allow it to careen down an unstoppable path toward fiscal oblivion? No. In fact Democrats want to increase spending even more and are advocating to reinstate sequester cuts made earlier this year.
The CBO issued its report this week and determined that our federal debt as a percentage of GDP will hit 100% by 2038. But James Pethokoukis points out that this could be far worse because it's difficult for the CBO to even comprehend the economic impact of spending of this magnitude. According to the CBO, “federal debt held by the public under the extended alternative fiscal scenario would reach 190 percent of GDP in 2038.” In other words, we are on an unsustainable path and yet not only are we not talking about it but the president refuses to negotiate or compromise on the debt ceiling.
Why doesn't Obama want to negotiate on the debt ceiling? Because Republicans are using the debt ceiling as leverage to negotiate the defunding or delay of ObamaCare. This has Obama throwing a temper tantrum. During that same speech yesterday, Obama went on to complain: “You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.” The only problem with that statement is that it is completely untrue. In fact, even the Washington Post gave this 4 Pinnochios. But Obama has developed a pattern of simply lying to the American people and seemingly getting away with it, though I would argue people are starting to notice and his credibility is falling as a result.
In a refreshing exchange yesterday with ABC's Jonathan Karl, Jay Carney found himself in the position of having to defend Obama's unwillingness to negotiate on the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John Boehner has an excellent video out today highlighting Obama's unwillingness to negotiate on the debt ceiling versus him tripping over himself to negotiate with Putin over the issue in Syria. Boehner rightly asks: Why is the Obama administration willing to negotiate with Putin on Syria but not with Congress to address Washington's spending problem?
And where do the American people stand? Poll after poll show that a majority, or at least a plurality, of Americans are against raising the debt ceiling. Let's face it, big government has gotten entirely too big and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. At some point we are going to have to get serious about this problem or we will be forced to deal with it when it's likely too late to salvage. Obama was willing to listen to the American people on the issue of Syria, why wouldn't he listen to them on fiscal issues and domestic spending? I'm not holding my breath.