It's Time to Get The Country's Spending Under Control | Citizens Against Government Waste

It's Time to Get The Country's Spending Under Control

The WasteWatcher

The federal government’s debt limit suspension came to an end on July 31, 2021, two years after Congress agreed to kick the proverbial fiscal can down the road.  During the intervening two years that the debt limit was suspended, the government borrowed $6 trillion, bringing the total federal debt to $28.6 trillion.  Now that Congress has blown past the debt limit suspension limit and the Treasury Department has been announced that it is taking extraordinary measures to fund the government, members of Congress are heading toward a high-stakes faceoff with the fiscal health of the country hanging in the balance. 

On August 5, 2021, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that no Republicans in the Senate would support raising or suspending the debt ceiling.  Senate Democrats had the option to include a debt limit suspension in the reconciliation instructions for the $3.5 trillion budget resolution they passed on August 11 on a party-line vote, but they failed to do so. 

 Raising or suspending the debt limit regardless of who is in the White House or which party has the majority in Congress has always been controversial.  The heated debates over the numerous deadlines for the debt limit have led to negotiations over fiscally responsible changes like budget reform or spending caps.  In 2011, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and former President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement on the Budget Control Act, Pub. Law 112-25.  This law raised the debt ceiling by up to $1.2 trillion in exchange for commonsense reforms like imposing caps on discretionary spending and reducing the federal deficit. 

 Additional spending reforms are long overdue, and the time is right for Congress to implement more spending caps and sequestration measures.  Since March 2020, the government has been spending money at a level that cannot be sustained.  In February 2021, the Congressional Budget Office projected that federal debt held by the public would increase to 107 of GDP by 2031, the highest in the nation’s history.  And that was before President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and the Senate approved the $1 trillion infrastructure plan and $3.5 trillion budget resolution.  The previous record for debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP was set when the country was fighting World War II and attempting to recover from the Great Depression.  The American economy is in a rough period but nowhere near being in a depression.  If Congress keeps spending at such an unsustainable rate, that may change.  

Sen. McConnell is right: No Republicans should vote to suspend or increase the debt ceiling.  Instead, Congress should act to rein in government spending independent of the debt ceiling, and if that is not possible, tie budget reform and spending caps to another suspension or increase in the debt limit.  Congress has consistently made fiscally irresponsible decisions and it is long past time that members act in the best interests of both current and future taxpayers. 

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