The View from the North: It’s Now or Never on the Debt Ceiling
By SILVIO CANTO, JR.
In Washington, the battle over the federal debt limit tops the list of bipartisan messes.
So let’s blame both sides and finally get to work.
According to news reports, there are 24 Republican senators who want to do something about the congressional impasse.
According to a commentary by Alexander Bolton in The Hill on Jan. 30, “nearly half of the Senate Republican Conference has signed on to a letter to President Joe Biden warning they will not vote for any bill to raise the nation’s debt limit unless it’s connected to spending cuts to address the nation’s $31 trillion debt.”
“The letter, led by conservative Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.), says it is the policy of the Republican conference that any increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by cuts in federal spending or ‘meaningful structural reform’ in spending,” Bolton wrote.
“We, the undersigned members of the Senate Republican Conference, write to express our outright opposition to a debt-ceiling hike without real structural spending reform that reduces deficit spending and brings fiscal sanity back to Washington,” the senators wrote.
Bolton said that the 24 senators “cited the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act, which would automatically provide continuing appropriations to fund government if Congress fails to pass spending legislation” by the established deadline, noting that the Full Faith and Credit Act would prioritize federal payments in the case Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit.
“We do not intend to vote for a debt-ceiling increase without structural reforms to address current and future fiscal realities, actually enforce the budget and spending rules on the books, and manage out-of-control government policies,” the Senators wrote in the letter.
Given that 24 is not 49, the total number of Republican senators, the minority leader did not sign it.
However, 24 senators could stop legislation.
Furthermore, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is in some serious trouble back home, and voting with the Democrats will not help him this time around.
By the same token, it seems that Senator Jon Tester of Montana is in the same boat.
It is hard to make any predictions about Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, but she could just surprise us.
In the meantime, most U.S. voters are concerned with the direction the country is taking.
The Democrats will no doubt play “the default” card and try to scare some voters.
The GOP can easily offset that by taking Medicare and Social Security off the table.
Meanwhile, it’s important for the GOP to lay down some clear markers and understand that this may be the best time to make significant reforms to spending.