Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has been telling interviewers that Republican leaders “offered private assurances to the White House that they ultimately would vote to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, regardless of whether a deal is reached on long-term spending cuts,” as Fox News reported.
This has prompted considerable anger from some of those Republican leaders. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was quick to deny any such deal had been made. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has been adamant that he won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling unless a balanced budget amendment is part of the deal, and might even support a filibuster to keep the debt ceiling in place..
Now Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina has issued the same challenge, saying “I will oppose any attempt to vote to raise the limit on our $14 trillion debt until Congress passes the balanced budget amendment.” It sounds like he wants the balanced budget amendment first, which is prudent, but sets up a very brisk legislative timetable. We’re due to hit the debt ceiling in a matter of weeks. Better get cracking on that Constitutional amendment, Congress! I suggest treating it like those massive trillion-dollar spending bills, and rushing it through the legislature before anyone has a chance to read it. If that was good enough for over $860 billion in “stimulus” spending or a trillion-dollar health care scheme, it’s good enough for a balanced budget amendment.
The Democrats, of course, want their debt limit increase with no strings attached. That’s where the new catch phrase “clean bill” comes in. They don’t want one of those “dirty” bills with all kinds of preconditions and restrictions on government power. They just want a shiny new set of credit cards, without any boring lectures on fiscal responsibility from Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.
It will be up to those taxpayers to decide who is the “extremist” here, and who is “monkeying around with the full faith and credit of the United States,” as Democrat Chris Van Hollen put it, while demanding unlimited spending without preconditions. President Obama’s budget proposals would take us past a $20 trillion national debt within a few years. Is he the “extremist,” or is it the people who want to stop the madness now? America’s answer to that question will go a long way toward determining its fate.