Debt Ceiling Raised: You Missed It!
On January 30th and 31st of 2012 the national debt jumped a cool $120 billion big ones. U.S. taxpayers are held accountable for every single penny.
That jump was made possible because the debt ceiling got quietly raised again late last month… this time to $16.4 trillion.
For the month of January the national debt grew by a total of $133 billion at a clip of $4.3 billion/day. That is up from the $3.4 billion/day average for all of 2011 and back up to the unprecedented growth rates of 2009 and 2010.
As of today, the national debt stands at $15.351 trillion… and rising.
President Obama and Congress, in general, are ecstatic.
By design, the new ceiling is just enough to tide us through 2012. Now debt can be, once again, conveniently swept under the rug until AFTER the November elections.
The federal government acts just like any ordinary citizen afraid to face their own growing debt problems. It ignores the problem and takes specific actions to hide it, hoping beyond hope it will somehow go away. It won’t.
How the Debt Ceiling got Raised… Again!
It goes back to last summer’s Congressional debt ceiling debate. Anyone remember that painful process?
Partisan bickering resulted in the U.S. credit rating being downgraded, just like it would be for any ordinary citizen ignoring their debt. If the federal government had a credit score it would be bad.
In that deal there was an immediate $900+ billion increase in the debt ceiling. Another $1.2 trillion increase was guaranteed UNLESS, after a request from the President, Congress voted to deny it.
Congress spent the $900+ billion quickly and the federal government went back into emergency debt mode once again on 1/4/2012. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner again, just like last spring, imposed “emergency measures” to keep the federal government operating.
You probably didn’t hear anything about that from CNN or the many other media pundits.
On 1/23/2012 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J.Res.98, a “resolution of disapproval” for raising the debt ceiling after President Obama requested doing so.
That resolution was not approved by the U.S. Senate.
Bottom line… as a result, the debt ceiling was automatically raised to $16.4 trillion to give Congress breathing room until after the 2012 elections… just as designed by Congress last summer!
Republicans and Democrats
If you want to know which party is most concerned about controlling debt that you, as a taxpayer, are held accountable then you need look no further than Congressional votes on this latest increase in the national debt.
To its great credit, the New York Times tracks and reports these things.
Others do, too. You can even check for yourself how your own Congressman or Senators voted on the debt ceiling increase!
In the House of Representatives they voted 239-176 in favor of the “resolution of disapproval” that denies raising the debt ceiling limit.
233 Republicans voted for the resolution and all 179 votes against it were from Democrats. 6 Democrats voted for the resolution and 1 Republican voted against it. 17 House members did not vote… 11 of them were Democrats and 6 were Republicans.
In the Senate they voted 52-44 AGAINST approval of the House resolution. That resulted in the debt ceiling being raised to $16.4 trillion.
49 Democrats, one Republican and 2 Independents voted against approval… and 42 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution. 2 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution and 1 Republican voted against it.
It is notable that 4 Republicans did not vote at all, including John McCain.
Bottom line… Republicans voted against raising the debt limit and Democrats voted for it.
Democrats raised the debt ceiling… period.
If you are one of those taxpayers charged with paying for the national debt, then you clearly have a friend in the Republican Party.
If you are not concerned about debt, like literally every Keynesian macroeconomist, then you have a friend in the Democratic Party.
Here are some major fiscal issues facing the Congress in 2012 and early 2013:
- The payroll tax “holiday” extension to the end of 2012
- Bush-era tax cuts set to expire 12/31/2012
- Built-in “Affordable Care Act” tax hikes set for 1/1/2013
- Pass a budget for the first time in three years
- Trillion dollar budget deficits
- Raising the debt ceiling above $16.4 trillion
Except for extending the payroll tax holiday, which must be done by the end of this month, those cans will be kicked down the road until the lame duck Congress the end of this year or later.
Congress won’t touch those things with a 10-foot pole until after the November elections.
You can forget about any tax and entitlement reform in 2012. It ain’t gonna happen.
Consider all these things carefully and then… vote accordingly in November!