• How to Avoid Debt Limits

    May 9, 2023

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    The so called “debt limit” debate in the U.S. Congress – there is no debate on the floor of the U.S. Congress between contending parties, and President Joe Biden; head of the U.S. Senate Chuck Schumer, and all the Democrat members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, insist there should be none -- is really a campaign kabuki theatre featuring the following question: Should there be a debt limit on borrowing by the federal government at all?

    Democrats have decided there should be no debt limits. There are difficulties in pressing this point, not the least of which is – Congress has established a debt limit to force the federal government to adhere to rational and necessary curbs on spending. The current national debt is about $31.46 trillion and rising.

    The U.S. Congress, a political body constitutionally charged with getting and spending tax dollars, closed any discussion on the point when it established the borrowing debt limit. And, unfortunately for spendthrift neo-progressives in Congress, attempts to carve a path around the debt limit will be perceived by the general voting population as highly reckless and irresponsible, particularly in the midst of a politically caused recession in which the value of U.S. currency has been reduced by inflation, which is caused by excessive regulation, excessive taxation and excessive spending.

    It is not possible to talk your way around the following proposition: getting and spending are casually related. The more you take from the public in taxation and borrowing, the more you will spend. This cycle invariably repeats itself – hence the need for debt limits.

    Throughout the whole of history, the relationship between the people and its governments has been an inverse one: The richer the government, the poorer the people. Occasionally, revolutionaries with knives in their brains kick back, as happened during the French Revolution, when heads rolled from the guillotine, among them that of King Louis and his wife, Marie Antoinette. As a mark of disdain, French revolutionaries buried the king in a common grave, his dissevered head positioned at his feet.

    Democracies generally do not run to such extreme violence. In the United States, an informed public occasionally dissevers a president from his position and votes in a new head of government, leaving the head of his or her predecessor firmly attached to his or her shoulders.

    National Republicans are prepared to raise the debt limit, provided a swarm of neo-progressives in Congress agrees to cost cuts.

    And so, here we are, as usual, in a political standoff.

    Other presidents, even the inimitable Barack Obamahave in the past agree to trade increases in the debt limit for cost cuts. The rise of federal debt under the reclusive Biden has been spectacular. And, precisely because Biden is reclusive and has during his term in office been unwilling to face even a handful of contrarian journalistic interrogators, what might be called the President’s political “vision for the country” over which he presides has not been effectively challenged.

    The result of the media’s passivity has been an open border, the surrender of Afghanistan and a major airbase to the Taliban and China, raging inflation, insupportable spending, and a kind of domestic isolationism rare in American politics. Biden’s interactions with the media are much too infrequent, and even his communicators are unwilling publically to answer important questions.

    Meanwhile in Connecticut, the state, under pressure from minority Republicans, also has enacted spending caps – guardrails intended to prevent the state legislature from overspending. A recent attempt to bypass spending guardrails brought a stern rebuke from Lamont: “If you don’t like the spending caps, vote them out, but don’t play games. None of these gimmicks!”

    And the gimmick? Republican leader in the state Senate Kevin Kelly noted in a recent opinion piece: “The budget and tax packages passed in the legislature last week propose moving more than $500 million in spending – with the possibility of going up to $1.1 billion – outside of the spending cap.”

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    Democrat Speaker of the House Matt Ritter’s response to this neo-progressive Democrat attempt to overleap the guardrails was disappointingly typical: “The Governor may not like [the] approach, but it doesn’t violate the guardrails. Is it outside the spending cap? Yes. Does it violate the guardrails? No.”

    The more often spending is moved outside the spending cap, the more often the efficacy of the cap is diminished.

    The “smart fiscal guardrails that have led us to the cusp of the first state income tax cut in three decades,” Kelly responded, “ain’t broke, and they don’t need fixing. Taxpayers deserve a state budget with significant tax relief, which respects the fiscal pledges we have all made as state lawmakers.”

    Ah yes, pledges, like tax cuts, may always be revoked by neo-progressives in the Democrat dominated General Assembly who have pledged themselves to a getting and spending regime that requires them to establish permanent tax increases and temporary tax relief, so as to ease their way to re-election.

    Don Pesci is a political columnist of long standing, about 40 years, who has written for various state newspapers, among them The Journal Inquirer, the Waterbury Republican American, the New London Day, the Litchfield County Times, the Torrington Register Citizen and other Register Citizen papers. He maintains a blog, among the oldest of its kind in Connecticut, which serves as a repository and archive, for his columns; there are approximately 3,000 entries in Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State, virtually all of them political columns stretching back to 2004. He also appears once a week Wednesdays on 1080 WTIC Newstalk radio with Will Marotti.


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