Can Congress go 44 days without piling on more debt?
Congress seems hell-bent on spending more and more. The big spending bills, like those for the Pentagon and National Institutes of Health, are already past the deadline for action. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his House GOP have set up a “top-of-the-line” budget process, where they would pass two bills in a single day for the Pentagon and the NIH, spending more than $2 trillion in the process. Boehner announced in mid-February that he was ready to go to “extend” the deadline for raising the debt ceiling. His idea: that the House should pass two “top-of-the-line” budget bills in one day, so that they don’t have to re-vote on the debt limit again.
That was the news of the day. A House Republican colleague of mine—who asked not to be named, for fear of retribution from his party—said Boehner set the stage: “Speaker Boehner’s plan is simple: he wants to get the debt limit raised before the end of the year, and he wants the government funded at that point, and he wants it to pass as quickly as possible, so that House Republicans can send it to the White House to get signed. That way, he can say to the public, ‘I cut spending, we have no revenue increase, the country’s balanced.’” He added: “This is in concert with the rest of a GOP ‘grand tour’ with no real substance—except that the public may forget about all the Republican hypocrisy and their party’s lack of leadership.” For the first time in modern history, the House Republican leadership is looking for a debt-ceiling increase in order to pass more and more legislation to increase the debt ceiling, which Boehner is sure they will do.
House Republicans have been saying that the debt and deficit crisis is not just a fiscal issue—it’s a moral issue, a religious issue. They have even gone so far as to call the problem God’s will on their behalf: “For my part, I believe it is God’s will that the United States government stay as small as possible, that it be limited in the area of its power, and all people everywhere should be free from the scourge of poverty.�