“America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” — Senator Barack Obama, March 16, 2006, when he voted against raising the debt ceiling.
What a difference four years and a different job make. The president was absolutely right four years ago. For far too long, Congress has not taken the statutory debt ceiling seriously, spending with abandon in the knowledge that increasing the nation’s credit limit would be a matter of perfunctory routine.
Today, though, the White House is accusing those opposed to raising the debt limit of playing chicken and threatening dire consequences if it isn’t raised. To them, I say: Whatever those consequences are, they are no greater than continuing to spend ourselves into economic oblivion. American families, businesses and virtually every state in the Union are right now having to deal with and manage the consequences of an economy brought to its knees by bad policy. It’s time for Congress and the administration to face those consequences, and if it takes turning off the credit spigot to force the budget into balance, then so be it.
The debt ceiling vote, when it occurs, will be a great test of the resolve of the new Congress. Either it will be business as usual — lip service and pretending to control spending — or it will serve as a perfect opportunity for Congress to finally bring the spending insanity to an end.
Gary Johnson is the honorary chairman of the OUR America Initiative (www.ouramericainitiative.com), a 501(c)(4) advocacy committee. He is also the former Republican Governor of New Mexico (1994-2002), and has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for efficient government and lowering taxes.