As we approach September 30, 2013, we once again face what I call debt day. It is a day when our nation’s bills become due and payable, and the question of raising the debt ceiling becomes an exercise in political extortion.
It is necessary and important to first refresh our memories on the history of the debt ceiling. It was created during the early days of our involvement in World War I, to help raise money for the war effort. Up until that time in our history, Congress appropriated money through the use of short term Treasury Bills. By having a debt limit it became a devise whereby Congress could issue longer term debt instruments with lower interest costs. Eventually all of the spending requirements made it necessary to put it all together creating an overall debt limit. This pulling together of all of the spending requirements occurred in 1939.
If Congress had a budget that would help. Surprisingly Congress did not pass a budget until after the passage of the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1973.
The debt limit is about the debt that has already occurred, raising the debt limit should be an easy process. If you are only paying for the bills that have become due because Congress has already passed bills that require them to be paid for, how can this be a problem?
How can you complain about Congress not having any fiscal discipline if the raising of the debt ceiling is only agreeing to pay the debts you have already obligated the nation to pay. Sorry, but it is a bit late, to grandstand, when the barn door has already closed.
But no, this exercise in futility has now graduated to extortion and worse. The Republican Party is undecided on whether or not to hold up the raising of the debt ceiling. What the Tea Party wing of the party want to do is to hold the debt ceiling hostage to the defunding of the ACA, the Affordable Care Act.
When Congress passed the ACA, it became the law of the land. The law was challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court affirmed the ACA as being the law of the land.
But no, those who lost the argument won’t give up. We have a form of government that runs on the principle of majority rule. Today’s right wing of the Republican Party refuse to abide by the rules of our system and are willing to even shut down the government if they don’t get their way.
Extortion is an abuse of power, these are acts of coersion and intimidation. The bottom line is that this is not what a democracy or a Republican form of government is all about. You find these strategies used in dictatorships and in fascist forms of government. There is no place for hostage taking or extortion in our country, for if we allow these actions to be victorious we all lose and we will no longer have our system of government.
These actions do not quite meet the definition of treason, but the intent is treasonous, their intent is to bring our government to a halt. People like Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Senator Cruz of Texas, among others, have shown their willingness to shut down the government if they do not get their way.
The Republican leadership knows that the Senate will have nothing to do with defunding the ACA, and the President has made it clear that he would veto any budget with that included.
It is a dangerous obsession that the Republicans have, it is against our traditions and against what Democracy represents.