Debt Wish: Hitting Snooze
Ever have one of those days where you just can’t stop hitting the snooze button? Washington can relate. It seems like every time America faces a major crisis, instead of finally accepting reality and making tough decisions, Congress hits snooze for another few months. The problem? While Washington is sleeping, spending doesn’t stop. So when lawmakers finally wake up to reality, Americans are left trillions deeper in debt and nowhere closer to a solution than before.
CONGRESS DISCUSSING ANOTHER SHORT-TERM EXTENSION OF DEBT CEILING
Trying to Buy Time? “House Republicans appeared to be coalescing around a proposal to approve a short-term increase in the government’s borrowing limit to give them time to use two other budget deadlines to win spending cuts they are demanding.” (Corey Boles and Patrick O’Connor, “GOP Weighs Short Debt-Limit Rise,” Wall Street Journal, 1/17/13)
“”We’re discussing the possible virtue of a short term debt limit extension so that we have a better chance of getting the Senate and the White House involved in discussions in March.” – Paul Ryan (Deirdre Walsh, “House GOP Discussing Short-Term Increase in Debt Ceiling,” CNN Political Ticker, 1/17/13)
Or Kicking the Can Down the Road – Again? “Republicans have tied themselves in knots so badly that now they’re debating amongst themselves on short-term extensions,” one aide said. “Let’s be clear: pushing this down the road two months would only delay the ill effects on our economy of a potential default.” (Russell Berman, “Ryan: House GOP Discussing Short-Term Hike to Debt Ceiling,” The Hill, 1/17/13)
Sacrificing the Debt-Ceiling For the Sequester. “Republicans appear to be willing to avoid a showdown over the debt limit and instead use the sequester as their main negotiating lever in upcoming fiscal fights with the White House and Senate Democrats.” (Billy House and Chris Frates, “House GOP Seeing Sequester, Not Debt Ceiling, As Fight to Pick,” National Journal, 1/17/13)
“Sometimes you’ve got to lay down a sacrifice bunt.” – Rep. Dennis Ross. (Billy House and Chris Frates, “House GOP Seeing Sequester, Not Debt Ceiling, As Fight to Pick,” National Journal, 1/17/13)
The Next Few Months Will Feel Like Déjà vu. “The Daily Beast’s David Frum doesn’t see the benefit for Republicans: ‘I’d have thought that a Republican House member would prefer to cast this unpleasant vote just once, rather than over and over again.’” (Elspeth Reeve, “Is the Debt Limit Fight Over Already?”, The Atlantic Wire, 1/17/13)
HOW MANY TIMES CAN WASHINGTON CONTINUE TO DELAY ACTION?
“CBO: Debt Poses Greater Long-Term Economic Threat Than Fiscal Cliff” (Joel Gehrke, “CBO: Debt poses greater long-term economic threat than fiscal cliff,” The Washington Examiner, 11/16/12)
Rep. Paul Ryan: “We think the worst thing for the economy for this Congress and this administration would be to do nothing to get our debt and deficits under control. … We think the worst thing for the economy is to move past these events that are occurring with no progress made on the debt and deficits.” (Russell Berman, “Ryan: House GOP Discussing Short-Term Hike to Debt Ceiling,” The Hill, 1/17/13)
Senators Susan Collins and Mark Udall: “[S]ome of our colleagues are proposing that we kick the can down the road yet again and delay the fundamental question of dealing with our debt and deficit. … Simply put, this is unacceptable, and the American people know it. … Over the past several years, punting our problems to the next year or the next Congress has proved to be a self-perpetuating game. We are stuck between the 40-yard lines unable to put any points on the board.” (Susan Collins and Mark Udall, “Congress Can’t Punt Again On The Budget,” USA TODAY, 8/14/12)
FISCAL CLIFF DEAL “ANOTHER PAIN-FREE PUNT” THAT RESULTED IN NO SPENDING CUTS
The Fiscal Cliff Deal Was Called “Pathetic,” “Kick-The-Can Fiscal Policy,” And “Nearly Irrelevant” To Our Long-Term Challenges:
AP: “Analysis: Cliff Deal Is Another Pain-Free Punt” (Charles Babington, “Analysis: Cliff Deal Is Another Pain-Free Punt,” Associated Press, 1/2/13)
Fiscal Cliff Deal “Nearly Irrelevant To The Long-Term Fiscal Challenge.” “The outcome of the fiscal-cliff negotiations is almost entirely disconnected from the actual needs of the country. It is probably a drag on short-term economic growth. It is nearly irrelevant to the long-term fiscal challenge.” (Michael Gerson, “Easing Pain, Not Problems, The Washington Post, 1/3/13)
“Kick-The-Can Fiscal Policy” “The fiscal cliff was an artificial crisis — produced at the confluence of Bush-era tax policy and the last round of kick-the-can fiscal policy — intended to rouse political seriousness on real problems.” (Michael Gerson, “Easing Pain, Not Problems, The Washington Post, 1/3/13)
“A Never-Ending Series Of Cliffs.” “[W]e are most likely in store for a never-ending series of cliffs for our economy, our government and indeed our country. Soon we’ll have to deal with the sequester, a debt-ceiling extension and possibly a budget, all of which hold the specter of revisiting the unresolvable conflicts and intransigence of the fiscal cliff.” (Charles M. Blow, “Cliff After Cliff,” The New York Times, 1/2/13)
Washington Post Columnists Calls The Deal “Pathetic.” “The moment called for a grand bargain. It yielded a pathetic punt. No one should feel good about this outcome.” (Ruth Marcus, “Ruth Marcus: Obama, Congress punt on fiscal cliff mess,” The Washington Post, 1/7/13)
Produced No Spending Cuts:
The Atlantic: “There Are No Spending Cuts In This Deal.” (Derek Thompson, “Fiscal Cliff Deal FAQ: What Just Happened And What It Means For You,” The Atlantic, 1/2/13)
The New York Times: “And It Includes Almost No Spending Cuts.” (David Leonhardt, “For Obama, A Victory That Also Holds Risks,” The New York Times, 1/2/13)
The Associated Press: “[The Fiscal Cliff Deal] Puts Off The Toughest Decisions About Spending Cuts…” (Charles Babington, “Analysis: Cliff Deal Is Another Pain-Free Punt,” The Associated Press, 1/3/13)
THE QUESTION: WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR WASHINGTON TO WAKE UP?
NBC’s David Gregory: “What will force his [President Obama’s] hand to cut spending beyond what he’s done, which you saw in our polling, Americans do want, as much as they want compromise.” (David Gregory, NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 1/20/13)
IS THE ANSWER JUST FORCING THEM TO DO THEIR JOB?
No Budget, No Pay. “To give Congress time to pass a budget, the House of Representatives will vote this week on a temporary three-month debt limit increase. But if the House or Senate fails to pass a budget in that time, Members of Congress will not be paid.” (The Office of Speaker John Boehner, “Speaker Alert: No Budget, No Pay,” 1/20/13)
Senate Hasn’t Passed A Budget In Nearly Four Years. “For nearly four years, Senate leaders have ducked their legal duty to craft a comprehensive budget framework.” (Lori Montgomery, Senate Democrats’ Budget Plan Will Reopen Battle Over Taxes, The Washington Post, 1/21/13)