by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Veronique de Rugy uses a National Review Online column to place the ongoing federal debt-ceiling debate in a larger context.
I apologize in advance for what will be a rant about the debt ceiling. But such a rant is necessary. For weeks now, there have been lots of newspapers articles and lots of people quoted about the mess that debt-ceiling legislation has become. Here is New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley writing about a potential breach of the debt limit:
“That could prevent Congress from doing the basic tasks of keeping the government open, paying the country’s bills and avoiding default on America’s trillions of dollars in debt.”
Here is the Department of Treasury:
“Failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences. It would cause the government to default on its legal obligations – an unprecedented event in American history. That would precipitate another financial crisis and threaten the jobs and savings of everyday Americans.” …
… The implicit or explicit message in all these comments is that legislators who try to use the debt ceiling to slow America’s march toward a fiscal crisis (whatever form it might take) are irresponsible. Crazy even. …
… But these considerations don’t imply that the debt ceiling should be raised without a commitment to alter, at least a little, our currently unsustainable fiscal course. And they certainly don’t mean the debt ceiling should be abolished.
But my more fundamental gripe is this: Where were these people who are upset about the debt-ceiling fight on the countless occasions when Congress ignored its own budgetary rules? Where was the indignation over irresponsible members of Congress keeping the government financed with awful omnibus bills or continuing resolutions?
Where were the outraged commentaries when Congress failed repeatedly, year after year, to operate under regular order?