Our Founding Fathers chose a republican form of government. In this form of government the power is held by the people and elected representatives are required to help all people, not just a few. To further guard against tyranny, our Founders established three coequal branches of government.
“A republic, if you can keep it,” Benjamin Franklin warned.
The debt ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960, 49 times during Republican administrations and 29 times during Democratic administrations. A record number of 18 increases occurred under President Reagan, and he warned us of the consequences of default:
“This brinkmanship threatens the holders of bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans’ benefits would skyrocket. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the deficit would soar.”
Following the failed negotiations of a bipartisan commission and days away from default, Obama would agree to a deal to end the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. Recovery from our Great Recession was described as the slowest since WWII, and our our nation’s debt became $8.6 trillion larger in eight years. Or was that $9 trillion?
The debt ceiling was raised three times during Trump’s time in office as our nation’s debt became $7.8 trillion larger in just four years. But Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) explained that Republicans had only a slight majority in the Senate and didn’t really control Congress.
There also seem to be several ways to calculate debt since a national emergency was declared in order to circumvent Congress and build barriers along our border. This effort was met almost immediately with legal challenges, and we are learning how long this process can take.
Pew Research found in 2019 that a majority of us lacked confidence in our government, and the economy has since become our top concern. We were warned three weeks ago by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen of the possibility of an economic downturn, should we not pass a debt ceiling measure.
Upon reaching the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling on January 19, President Biden submitted a budget proposal including $3 trillion in cuts on March 9. Awaiting a response, he reminded us, “”Our national debt is the consequence of actions already taken, and now is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges we face. And we will, as one people. One America. The United States of America.”
The Fiscal Responsibility Bill of 2023 was passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 314-117 on the evening of Wednesday, May 31 in the House and cleared the Senate chamber late Thursday evening by another strong bipartisan 63-36 vote.
Passed in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling for two years, the bill will not limit defense spending, allow taxes to be raised, or allow other spending to rise more than 1%. But in an unusual step during the long evening, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Minority Leader Mc Connell released a joint statement noting that this legislation cannot block future emergency supplemental spending.
Let’s hope that narrative might survive, along with our democracy.