Monday, October 05, 2009
[Congress is getting ready to raise the debt ceiling once again to around $13 trillion or so, something that has become a routine part of government operations as noted here back on September 28, 2007 when the following post originally appeared.]
What would we do without the debt ceiling? Without it, elected officials would spend money like drunken sailors. With it, elected officials do spend money like drunken sailors who, once every year or so, have to get a permission slip.
Yesterday, Congress prepared to send a bill to the White House that would formalize the lifting of the U.S. government debt limit from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion, enabling the continuation of vital debt-financed spending and preventing a government shutdown.
If there is one issue that both parties can usually agree on, it is this one - to enable more borrowing in order to continue spending. According to Wikipedia:
At any given time (at least in recent decades), there is a debt ceiling in effect. Whereas Congress once approved legislation for every debt issuance, the growth of government fiscal operations in the twentieth century made this impractical ... If the outstanding debt grows to this ceiling level, the Treasury may not issue any additional debt beyond replacing maturing amounts. In some past episodes, in combination with appropriation impasses, this led to many agencies of the government being shut down or only providing extremely limited service. However, the ceiling is routinely raised by passage of new laws by the United States Congress every year or so.There you have it - a self imposed system of modest restraint.
According to zFacts the situation is as follows:
Wow! That's more than a $600 million increase in the general fund debt since this screen-shot was taken about eight hours ago.
Is that a lot?
The sad fact is that, these numbers are so big that nobody really comprehends what they are or what they mean except for lonely Comptroller General David M. Walker who has made it his mission in life to do something about the growing debt and the nation's mounting financial obligations - unfortunately, no one seems to care.
The Associated Press reports that the 53-42 vote comes just before the October 1st deadline to authorize continued spending.
Congress has never failed to raise the debt ceiling and prevent default on U.S. obligations, but the vote nonetheless illustrates the fiscal failings of Bush and Congress since the U.S. recorded four straight years of surpluses ending in 2001, Bush's first year.Well, as long we are protecting "the full faith and credit of the United States"...
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., noted that the bill would be the fifth debt limit increase - totaling $3.865 trillion - since Bush took office.
Bush's 2001 budget presentation promised tax cuts, spending increases and $2 trillion in debt buyback made possible by huge budget surplus forecasts - estimates that proved very, very wrong.
"Instead of paying down the debt, the debt has exploded on his watch," Conrad said.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson praised the Senate for protecting "the full faith and credit of the United States."