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Congress should take one more vote — to abolish debt ceiling

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  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:59 a.m.

    Congress approves all spending and all taxes. Therefore, whatever the level of the debt is has already been approved by congress. I agree with this piece, abolish the debt limit. It is meaningless as far as limiting the debt is concerned.

    If we want a balanced budget, someone in congress should propose one, and the American people can decide if they like it or not. They won't, but that's different story.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:48 a.m.

    Congress voted to authorize this spending they don't want to raise the debt ceiling for. If they want to stop spending they shouldn't have authorized the spending in the first place. Getting rid of the debt ceiling doesn't change Congress's authority in holding the purse and would get rid of a lot of the uncertainty conservatives say is holding back the economy (since fiscal cliff is one thing, defaulting on the debt is way more extreme and harmful).

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:03 a.m.

    If the debt continues to go up (and it will as far into the future as we can see), the federal government will default at some point anyway. Its inevitable! The Republicans are the only ones who seem to care! And some of you Democrats just think spending money even our grandchildren won't have is just fine as long as you get your entitlements. Could there be a more accurate demonstration of greed than that?

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:23 a.m.

    @Mountanman

    I agree, the debt needs to stop climbing. However, the debt ceiling does nothing to stop that, all it does is force us to default on spending ALREADY authorized by the Congress. If it wasn't something worth increasing our debt over, it should not have passed the Congress.

    All this does is allow Congressmen to say "I voted to give war orphans free medical care until 18"(just an example I made up) and then later say they are tough on spending and not pay the promised bill. I think this is a more accurate description of greed, to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States for political favor.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:38 a.m.

    That might work if our leaders in Washington ever showed any kind of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, they don't so it would be like taking all limits off a set of credit cards for a shopaholic.

    I would be in favor of it if it was replaced with something that might really work. Like making a law that for every $10 billion in deficit spending, every federal worker's pay gets cut 1%. With the current $1 trillion deficit, every federal worker would get ZERO this year.

    If such a law was in force, it would take about 3 seconds to get a balanced budget. You would find it amazing how fast people would care about waste, fraud, abuse, and unnecessary spending when it hits their own personal pocketbook.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:54 a.m.

    Despite the recent debacle and other problems, I think the conversation is important and the ceiling should remain.

  • KDave Moab, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:57 a.m.

    Congress doesn,t approve all spending. Obamas czars and their overpaid staffs are one example, the Judicial system is another. Establishing National Monuments is another. They go on and on. Do away with Congressive oversight and we may as well anoint a King.,

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 8:56 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist

    "I would be in favor of it if it was replaced with something that might really work. Like making a law that for every $10 billion in deficit spending, every federal worker's pay gets cut 1%. With the current $1 trillion deficit, every federal worker would get ZERO this year."

    ============================

    This wouldn't work:

    1)Why punish a janitor cleaning a federal building for Congress' inability to budget?

    2) If these federal employees (soldiers are included in this by the way) got 0, how would they feed their families? Pay their mortages? Supply and demand would simply dictate they leave their jobs for paying ones, and then there would be no Federal workers (again, soldiers are Federal workers).

    3) Your claim this threat would fix everything is also false, this whole fiscal cliff idea was maunfactured to force Congress to act, and it still did not work. Constitutionally Congressmen must be paid so their pocket book would in no way be affected.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 26, 2012 9:14 a.m.

    In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a congress. - John Adams

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Dec. 26, 2012 9:34 a.m.

    Mountainman said, "The Republicans are the only ones who seem to care! And some of you Democrats just think spending money even our grandchildren won't have is just fine as long as you get your entitlements."

    I have to say that your version of history astounds me. From 1776 until 1980, the year Ronald Reagan won his first term, our country had accumulated approximately $1.0 trillion in debt. By the time George Bush Sr. left office in 1992 our debt had more than quadrupled. The "spend now and pay later" policies of those two administrations set a dangerous precedent.

    Bill Clinton, with the help of the Republican Congress, got things in order. The total reduction in federal employees during his term was 250,000 and welfare as we knew it changed forever. The CBO predicted that our national debt would be paid off in ten years. Then another Republican took the helm. He lowered revenue (taxes), engaged in two unfunded wars, passed an unfunded prescription drug plan, etc., etc., etc.. When will you and the conservatives admit, your party is not conservative? They are spendthrifts who don't want to pay their bills.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 9:42 a.m.

    Darrel: I never claimed that my proposal would have a snowball's chance of passing.

    While not necessarily fair that the janitor suffers, it would be a necessary step in order for this to have a real impact. I included EVERY federal worker (including soldiers) for a reason. Congress, the President, and all the other fat-cats in Washington would be forced to act if there were hoards of federal workers demonstrating outside their offices and threatening to throw them out of office if they didn't balance the budget.

    Also, although Congress passes spending bills, it is the rank and file workers who actually spend the money. Every year you get people begging Congress for more money for things they don't really need today. Would that janitor be hoping for that brand new riding floor cleaner when a simple mop and bucket works fine if he knew part of the money for the expensive equipment came out of his paycheck? Multiply that by a few million decisions and it adds up fast.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    @KDave
    "Congress doesn,t approve all spending. Obamas czars and their overpaid staffs are one example, the Judicial system is another. Establishing National Monuments is another. They go on and on. Do away with Congressive oversight and we may as well anoint a King.,"

    ================

    These all have their origins in Congressional Spending. What congress often does is give a department a budget with which to operate, and they determine best how to spend their money. Sometimes Congress will direct this themselves and this is called "ear marking" (for some reason a dirty word now). The DoD works in a combination of both.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 26, 2012 9:52 a.m.

    Republicans wanting to use the debt ceiling as a political tool are irresponsible and dangerous, as former GOP Congressional Staffer, Mike Lofgren stated:

    "A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

    Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation."
    ("Good-bye To All That, Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult")

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 26, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    @ ECR. History can be interpreted so differently by its partisan observers. For example, it was actually Newt Gingrich and the REPUPLICAN congress that balanced the budget and provided a surplus, not Bill Clinton. Slick Willy, as you many recall, was very busy with Monica Lewinsky at the time. As for how much the Republicans have increased the national debt, please explain how and why the debt has gone up faster under Barrack Obama in his first term than at any time on our nation's history! And who is it today that is demanding the debt ceiling be raised and which party wants real cuts, not token cuts in today's out of control government spending?

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:09 p.m.

    ECR,
    BO increased the debt more in 3.5 years than bush did in 8 and you want to draw comparisons?

    the debt increased more when bush had a dem congress than when he had a repub congress and you want to compare?

    BO had smaller deficits under a repub congress than under a dem congress and you want to compare?

    thanks for coming over to our side.

    But as for slick willy credit? REALLY!?!?!?

    slick willy may have reduced federal employees, but only because he gutted the military. the civilian federal workforce increased under slick. And he outsourced a lot of federal work to political cronies, so the federal govt really continued to expand under slick.

    Slick was too busy with monica to worry about our national defense, so the embassy and Cole attacks he allowed emboldened our enemies and gave us 9/11. You censure bush for his wars; would you have just let the taliban continue in full force in Afghanistan in their support of al qaeda so they could have launched more attacks against us? I agree that our venture into Iraq was questionable, but not Afghanistan. Too bad BO will lose there for us.

  • Neanderthal Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:11 p.m.

    @KDave:
    "Congress doesn't approve all spending. Obama's czars and their overpaid staffs are one example, the Judicial system is another. Establishing National Monuments is another."

    Sorry, but all spending must be approved by Congress. Obviously, they don't vote on every dime that's spent. But Congress does vote what's essentially a budget for each and every governmnet unit including the courts and monuments.

  • Alfred Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:12 p.m.

    If Congress can't manage the government's finances with a debt limit, how is it they would be able to do it without a debt limit?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:42 p.m.

    Amidst all the cries of Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch reports that Obama has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Forbes)

    "Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.

    There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.

    Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget.

    What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock." (MarketWatch/Wall Street )

  • wrz Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 12:55 p.m.

    @Darrel:
    "What congress often does is give a department a budget with which to operate, and they determine best how to spend their money."

    The way it works is... the Executive Branch (President) budget is built from the bottom up. Every department (Commerce, Defense, HHS, Energy, Agriculture, etc.) develops and submits budgets to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) each year starting sometime in the spring. OMB puts all the data in a Presidential Budget and submits it to the House of Representatives for vote. The House tweaks it and sends it to the Senate for approval. Once approved by the Congress it goes to the president for signature.

    The approved budget is to be followed fairly religiously. Any major deviations must be submitted to and approved by Congress. For example, if Defense runs out of money it can't willy-nilly reach over into the Commerce budget and spend its money.

    "Sometimes Congress will direct this themselves and this is called "earmarking."

    Not so... Earmarks are approval of funds for specific projects in specific Congressman's state... Usually used by politicians to show their constituents they can 'bring home the bacon.'

  • Alfred Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    @Truthseeker:
    "There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear."

    Then, pray tell, how did he increase the national debt from about $10 trillion to more than $16 trillion in just under four years in office?

    "Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget."

    A $6+ trillion increase is some kind of serious fundamental misunderstanding. That kind of misunderstanding tops all misunderstandings since this country began.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:27 p.m.

    Earmarks may refer to an expenditure, paid from the general fund, that has been specified to apply to a particular local project, usually within the congressional district of the provision's author. (These typically called "pork")

    An earmark may also refer to the dedication of a discrete revenue stream to a particular program within the federal budget, regardless of whether that program is local or national in scope. Earmarked revenues are used to fund programs of various sizes, ranging from Social Security and Medicare to conservation projects funded from General Service Administration property sales.

    One rarely noticed aspect of earmarks is that they typically do not have the force of law. But despite the fact that the administrative agencies are not legally required to pay for projects earmarked in committee reports, they uniformly do so to avoid being punished in the next years appropriations process.
    (Harvard Law School)

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:31 p.m.

    Mountainman and Lost - I'm not aware of anyone occupying the White House named Slick Willy. Your sophomoric names for someone who served the nation well for 8 years is truly disheartening.

    Now, regarding the debt, I previously acknowledged that the Republican Congress played a part in balancing the national budget. But you would be less than honest of you didn't acknowledge that the tax increases proposed by the president didn't play a major role in that balancing. That's not reckless spending, that is responsible money management. Your assertion that the total number of civilian federal workforce actually raised under Clinton is just nonsense. According to OMB, the total reduction was 282,000. Of that, most came from the Department of Defense but they were all civilian employees. The end of the cold war had a great deal to do with this reduction. But the military did not suffer.

    The debt has increased quickly under President Obama because of the reductions in revenue caused by the Bush Administration mentioned by me previously and by the reduction in tax revenue caused by the economic downturn. But the rate of increase in spending is lower than at anytime since the Eisenhower Administration.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:48 p.m.

    @Alfred
    "Then, pray tell, how did he increase the national debt from about $10 trillion to more than $16 trillion in just under four years in office?"

    2009 is actually a bush budget year since budgets are for fiscal years starting in october so the 2009 budget year started October 2008. Since then spending has barely increased at all comparing the 2012 budget (most recent completed fiscal year) to the 2009 budget year. As such the 1.5 trillion dollar deficit in 2009 is now only 1.1 trillion in 2012 since spending stayed flatish while revenue increased as we moved out of the recession. Also, the recession and tax cuts caused revenue declines which increases deficits.

    @Truthseeker
    Your numbers are correct but are somewhat misleading. 2009 was a Bush budget year, but the spending amount that year was increased due to post-Obama-inauguration policies like the stimulus. Factcheck considers 200 billion of the spending in 2009 to be due to obama policies. Compared to 3.6 trillion a year and divided out over the years since one gets a 1.25% increase in spending each year on average.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Dec. 26, 2012 1:57 p.m.

    One question --

    How could GW Bush and his friends in Congress start 2 wars, pass Medicare Part D, AND lower taxes for everyone?

    Republicans can whine and cry about debts and fiscal cliffs 'til the cows come home.

    They have no-one but themselves to blame for most of it.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 2:52 p.m.

    Joe Capitalist -- instead of penalizing Federal Workers by cutting their pay, why not cut the pay of our Senators and Congresscritters? They have set themselves up with automatic annual pay increases while the Federal Workers (who, as opposed to members of Congress, actually do work) has been frozen.

    Wouldn't it better to cut the pay of those who make the bad decisions? (Of course, they have other sources of income so they might not even notice. Now if the lobbyists and campaign contributions and bribes from corporations and others dried up, than something good might happen. But I wouldn't count on it.)

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    No, Alfred, Truth Seeker is right. Most of the spending you and others are blaming on Obama are actually spending policies that were engraved in stone by previous presidents and Congressional lawmaking.

    No President can stop the rolling monster of lavish laws inflicted upon him by his predecessors.

    You, sir, have become a victim of a vicious propaganda machine provided to the right by courtesy of hate radio.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 26, 2012 3:17 p.m.

    airnaut. Al Qaida stated two wars, when they attacked us! Remember 9/11 at all?

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 3:21 p.m.

    Truthseeker: ""Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%."

    So you take the biggest federal budget EVER which was bloated with a huge "stimulus" package to try and "prevent" an economic meltdown and make that the new base level for future budgets. Then you point out that it actually INCREASED from there (instead of decreasing substantially like it should have) and you use that as evidence that Obama is some kind of tightwad with federal spending. Seriously?!??

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 3:26 p.m.

    Mountain, but shouldn't President Cheney and his little friend have paid up front for the wars rather than putting them on the credit card?

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Dec. 26, 2012 4:03 p.m.

    re:Alfred

    Do you understand what the debt ceiling is?

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) explains: "The debt limit does not control or limit the ability of the federal government to run deficits or incur obligations. Rather, it is a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred." The apparent redundancy of the debt ceiling has led to suggestions that it should be abolished altogether.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Dec. 27, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    Get out of foreign wars. Restrict "defense" spending to actual defence. End foreign aid. Allow most government departments to die out by ending new hires. Outlaw "bailouts".
    Require e-verification. Restrict spending to those items specifically listed in the Constitution. End all further deficit spending. Restore social security funds to the states of origin for local administration, and let the states collect them too. Restore states' rights according to the Constitution with every duty not SPECIFICALLY ennumerated in the US Constitution reverting to the states and the people of those states.