The issue of raising the federal debt limit (aka shooting ourselves in the economic foot) has become a perennial topic in national politics. Yet, neither political party has shown that it is taking the issue of America’s federal debt all too seriously.
The debt limit has become a contentious debate where both sides exploit the issue for political gain rather than use it as an opportunity to do the right thing for a nation mired by a $16 trillion debt. Republicans use the debt limit as an opportunity to paint Democrats as liberal spenders while Democrats exaggerate the impact of government spending cuts to paint Republicans as scrooges, impartial to the poor and marginalized.
Neither side has shown real leadership on the issue. Washington continues to tax too much, spend too much and borrow too much.
Consider the latest sequester fiasco, derived from the 2011 debt limit debate, that President Obama has sought to use a political weapon. By shutting down White House tours and cutting air traffic control hours the President tried to make a point; not raising the debt limit and instead enforcing spending cuts has grave consequences.
The reality is no one believes the government is drowning in red ink because of air traffic controllers or White House tours. President Obama overplayed his hand and the result is less public confidence in our institutions of government.
While the sequester did enforce needed cuts, they were not spending cuts as much as cuts in the growth of new spending. Even with sequestration the federal government will still spend more in 2013 than in 2012 and we will spend even more in 2014.
The next debt ceiling debt isn’t likely to come up again until later this year, due to higher revenues from the fiscal cliff tax hikes, unexpected profits from Fannie and Freddie, and less spending due to sequester. That doesn’t mean we can take a breather; the public knows we cannot rely on politicians to solve these systemic problems. We must act now to give our elected leaders the backbone to say no to more spending and more debt.
Earlier this year AFP signed a coalition letter stating: “Conservatives should not raise our nation’s statutory debt limit unless Congress passes and the President signs into law real reforms and immediate spending reductions that place America on a path to balance within 10 years without raising taxes and keeping the budget in balance.”
There is no question that the debt ceiling will need to be raised sometime this year. However, advocates for economic freedom cannot support that debt ceiling increase unless and until we begin to grapple with the systemic flaws in our entitlement programs.
AFP-NE will stand by any members of the Nebraska congressional delegation who are committed to the task of fixing our nation’s broken budget.