But the bill (House version: H.R. 2560) takes center stage this coming week as the House will use it for a major statement in the ongoing budget debate.
The debate is occurring because the federal government is close to maxing out its credit card. Federal law limits the amount of debt the government may carry, currently to $14.294 trillion. (That’s about $46,000 per person, or $144,000 per U.S. family.)
If the debt limit statute is going to be changed, the bill to do it has to go through the House of Representatives, which is in Republican hands. Republicans, especially those with Tea Party backing, want to control the debt.
So the Republican House plans only to let an increase in the debt limit go through if some real spending cuts happen at the same time. And they want the cuts to hold, so they’re talking about a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
Here (and in the video) are how the Republican Study Committee argues for its proposal to get the federal government’s indebtedness under control:
One-time spending cuts will not be enough to avert the coming crisis. Neither will toothless promises of cuts 10 years from now. Only permanent changes will do. The answer is spending cuts now, enforceable spending caps, and Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution – Cut, Cap, and Balance.
Is that the right approach?
Generally, Democrats and President Obama feel that the national debt is not as serious a concern as Republicans do. They don’t think that the government’s arrival at its debt limit is an appropriate reason to have this debate. Republicans are holding the government’s good credit hostage to try to get their way.
If the government does reach the limit and starts to default on its debt—refusing to pay out on government notes—the government’s borrowing costs will rise dramatically. This will affect interest rates overall, and it will have unknown, but certainly bad, effects on the economy. The last thing the economy needs is another shot to the gut. The Cut, Cap and Balance approach will go nowhere, so it’s just political posturing.
This is a good, strong debate. We wrote before about your role in it. So? Take part!