On Wednesday night, the House passed what could be one of the worst debt ceiling deals in U.S. history, as it doesn’t provide the fiscal responsibility needed for suffering Americans.
In fact, this deal perpetuates most of the same reckless policies that have contributed to stagflation, leaving Americans struggling financially. Despite what appears to be a relatively strong labor market, wages have failed to keep pace with inflation on an annual basis for more than two years. Homeownership has become unattainable for many, and higher prices have forced over half of the adult population to reduce their savings.
You would think that such widespread suffering would motivate Congress to reform its fiscal insanity, but apparently, that’s not the case.
While 49 out of 50 states have a balanced budget amendment and most have a spending limit, there are no such rules at the federal level. The debt ceiling is the only mechanism, other than elections, that we have to keep Congress’ spending in check.
By suspending the debt ceiling, we’re inviting more reckless spending, which is why our national debt has skyrocketed to a ridiculous amount of more than $31 trillion. The net interest on the debt alone will soon surpass $1 trillion.
The new debt ceiling bill allows politicians to kick the can further down the road of payment for the debt to our children and grandchildren to deal with later. By raising the debt ceiling for another two years and only imposing a one percent annual spending limit next year, there’s ample room for the debt and spending to continue to grow at an already bloated budget.
A more reasonable timeframe for suspending the limit would have been two months, giving Republicans and Democrats the opportunity to pursue essential spending restraint. Irresponsible spending is a bipartisan problem, but Republicans, with their majority in the House and a platform of fiscal conservatism, bear even greater responsibility to address this issue.
Two years is an extensive period considering the adverse effects of the current national debt on inflation, interest rates, the U.S. dollar’s status, and the result of exacerbating the daily struggle of Americans to make ends meet, let alone pursue the largely destroyed American Dream.
Some argue that Congress should budget like a family. However, they should budget even more conservatively as Congress is entrusted with the hard-earned tax dollars of the public, not their own. Unleashing spending on out-of-control war efforts with the lack of major reforms and cuts where needed in the budget when our country teeters on the brink of financial crisis doesn’t promote individual liberty or economic growth.
In the meantime, fiscal conservatives in Congress should continue advocating for a spending limit rule such as seen in the states to put an end to this crisis. A responsible budget that grows, if it grows at all, by less than the rate of population growth plus inflation, which represents the average taxpayer’s ability to afford spending, would be a great goal.
Without substantial spending restraint, Americans can expect more suffering. As economist Milton Friedman once said, the ultimate burden of government is not how much it taxes but how much it spends. This debt ceiling bill was an opportunity to help reduce this burden, and we lost that.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is founder and president of Ginn Economic Consulting, LLC, host of the Let People Prosper podcast, and chief economist or senior fellow at multiple think tanks across the country. He previously served as the associate director for economic policy of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, 2019-20. Join the thousands who follow him on Twitter for daily, insightful commentary @VanceGinn.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.