Two sentences that should be part of every discussion of the debt ceiling

James Fallows NAILS IT:

1) Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.

2) For Congress to “decide whether” to raise the debt ceiling, for programs and tax rates it has already voted into law, makes exactly as much sense as it would for a family to “decide whether” to pay a credit-card bill for goods it has already bought.



  1. All you hear from the liberals is an endless array of stories of why we should embrace government gluttony and raise the debt ceiling. Posts about what a catastrophe it would be to force a partial government shut down or why the debt ceiling itself is illegal are common in left wing circles. Pat has probably referenced at least a dozen of such articles.

    Yet none of these so called pundits offer any real suggestions on how to bring down the debt so we won’t have these government shut down threats in the future.

  2. Neftali: Which of the two sentences in the post above do you not understand?

    Both, right?

  3. The debt ceiling vote, even if it is just to approve funds that have already been appropriated, should be looked at as an opportunity.

    Government officials have been kicking the can down the road for decades now. LBJ’s Great Society, Reagan and Bush military spending increases, Bush and Obama entitlement expansion, and every President increases education funding. None of it is really paid for over the long hall.

    When we are confronted with the debt ceiling, it forces everyone to step back and examine the government balance sheet. If not now, when?

  4. Neftali: Let me to try to explain this so that even you can understand.

    For Congress to default on the debts that it — and it alone — has incurred would be the height of irresponsibility and would invite disaster.

    The Republican imbeciles in Congress seem unable to grasp this simple truism. And the same can be said of those ordinary citizens who cheer them on.

  5. You don’t control spending by not paying for what you already bought. You control spending by not buying a bunch of crap.

  6. I agree with both of the statements. But if I had run up against my own personal debt ceiling I would do everything in my power to stop any further spending and cut up the credit cards.

  7. I like how the liberals claim that “Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.”

    Right. It is just like when your credit card company raises your credit limit, that doesn’t authorize you to spend more…oh wait…never mind.

  8. Neftali: You still don’t get it, do you?

    You scoff at “how the liberals claim that ‘Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending’,” but that is incontrovertibly, irrefutably true.

    You just don’t want it to be true. You want to believe what the dimwit Republicans in Congress tell you. You want to believe that raising the debt ceiling gives Obama a “blank check.”

    You think your analogy with a credit card company raising your credit limit is clever, but it’s pure bunk. In such a case, you are, in fact, authorized to spend more. In the case of the debt ceiling, however, raising it DOES NOT allow the president to spend more. And it is either dishonest or foolish to suggest otherwise.

    None of your rhetoric changes the simple facts of the matter. As James Fallow says above, raising the debt ceiling does not authorize one single penny in additional public spending.

    Congressional intransigence on this issue is a refusal on the part of Congress to honor the debts that it — not Obama — has accrued.

  9. Why no fanfare when the debt ceiling was raised 18 times under Reagan and 7 times under Bush? I guess it’s only an issue when there’s a black president.

  10. Why was I not worried when I added a second credit card after I maxed out my first card or when I added a third card after I maxed out my second card?

    Oh that’s right, the credit card company won’t issue me the fourth card without charging ridiculous rates.

    And look at that, I don’t make enough money to pay the minimum balance on the first three cards combined, much less pay down the massive amount of money I now owe.

  11. The problem with the credit card analogy is that when you hit your credit limit the credit card company will not allow you to spend more on that card. The debt ceiling places no such limitation on congress. It can spend whatever it want to, unless the president vetoes it, regardless of the debt limit.

  12. Except in the Federal case most of the spending is on the entitlement side. We are already committed to spend the bulk of the money, it isn’t discretionary.

    The House wants to use the occassion to get the President to agree to significant reform of our massive entitlement spending. Because his party controls the Senate as well, they need to have his agreement that he will sign whatever they pass.

    Nobody is going to be happy in the end. The longer they wait, the more unhappy people are going to eventually be.

    If the President wants to cement a legacy of greatness he will LEAD and propose real solutions to entitlement reform. If Boehner wants to improve his legacy, he will do the same.

    If the entitlement problem is not addressed in the next 4 years, they will both be goats for all time along with the rest of the goats that got us into this position.

    No matter what, the math of the situation cannot be avoided.

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