By Paul Gable
When is a debt limit not a debt limit? When it’s in Congress.
You have to give those 535 people we send to Washington every couple of years to run the federal government credit. They find more creative ways every year not to do their job.
The latest is a debt limit that is not a limit because it will be suspended until May 18th while the Treasury continues borrowing to pay the nation’s immediate bills.
When we (as a nation) reach May 18th, we will have exceeded the statutory $16.4 trillion national debt limit without having a big Democrat/Republican showdown over fiscal policy. Actually, we reached the $16.4 trillion debt limit in the last days of 2012. The Treasury has been juggling the books since then to make it seem like we didn’t.
The debt limit will officially kick back in on May 19th after, all those in Congress assure us, a long-term strategy to rein in budget deficits will have been reached in Washington. This would, presumably, be the long-term strategy that Washington has not been able to come up with in the last 12 years.
When George W. Bush took office in January 2001, the national debt was approximately $5.5 trillion. When he left eight years later, after a tax cut and two wars on credit card, it was approximately $11.5 trillion.
Now after four years of the Obama stimulus/bailout strategy it is over $16.4 trillion, but we don’t know how much over because Washington has, evidently, stopped counting.
This isn’t exactly Germany, under the Weimar Republic, or Greece and Spain today, but we seem to be closing the gap because Washington, especially Congress, will not deal with the problem.
Way back in 1985, Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act and promptly did not balance the budget.
The budget was balanced for a couple of years in the second term of Bill Clinton’s administration, but Bush came into office and, in a few months, turned a $500 billion surplus into a $500 billion deficit.
Things have only gotten worse since and Congress and the administration refuse to deal with the problem. It looks now like they refuse to even acknowledge the problem. If we suspend the statutory debt limit, it doesn’t count, right?
Members of Congress are paid a base salary of $174,900 per year, plus the best health insurance and retirement plans in the nation and other fringe benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars per year more.
The House and Senate generally meet in session only three days per week, Tuesday through Thursday, when they can’t find an excuse to go into recess, and don’t do anything productive then.
The American people have not demanded Congress do its job. Over 90 percent of members who sought re-election two months ago were re-elected.
By continually re-electing them, we are giving members of Congress permission to not do anything and be rewarded for it.
It is time for a change, in our opinion.
The voters in the 1st Congressional District of South Carolina have the opportunity to make that change in the upcoming special election.
One candidate, Elizabeth Moffly stands out for not being a state or former federal legislator to date. She brings new ideas, a new attitude and a new type of resume to her campaign for Congress.
The old ways are not working. We don’t need more of the same.