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Trump Was Right…Once In 2017–About Raising Debt Ceiling, Fight Now Underway Again

August 3, 2021

No need to send emergency vehicles screaming down my street upon reading the first three words in the headline of this post. I am drinking coffee, alert, and able to make my own decisions. I still know where my car keys are located, and more importantly what they are for!

The fact is, however, that at one moment in Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office he actually said something that made sense. I even made my readers aware of the event in September 2017. Republicans may not accept the fact, but I am a fair umpire when it comes to policy moves by politicians.

In a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday, he asked Republican and Democratic leaders why Congress needed to vote on the (debt ceiling) issue at all. 

There was a bipartisan discussion in the White House about eliminating the debt ceiling altogether. The debt ceiling is the legal limit on the total amount of federal debt the government can accrue. 

“There are a lot of good reasons to do that,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, acknowledging that the era of debt-ceiling drama could be nearing an end.

Obviously, the one idea that Trump had which made sense never came to fruition.

I write about this matter yet again as lawmakers missed a Saturday deadline to extend a two-year suspension of the nation’s borrowing limit, which was automatically reinstated at the beginning of August.  Once again a partisan fight will be waged over this matter. There are serious consequences if members of Congress do not act like adults with even a rudimentary understanding of Econ 101.

Raising the limit does not authorize the government to increase spending beyond the level Congress has approved. Rather, it allows the government to meet its existing obligations to citizens, vendors, and investors.

The shallow end of the legislative pool proves what the problem is when dealing with this topic. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t expect any Republican senators to vote to raise the debt ceiling. When it comes to just plain partisanship let it be recorded that McConnell ranks at the top of the list in the Senate. Meanwhile, let it be noted that Democrats joined three times during the Trump administration to do the responsible thing by raising the debt limit.

How Republicans who tout their love of business and the bottom line can miss the point about the need to raise the debt limit is totally befuddling. Failure to do so could hurt America’s international standing and push up borrowing costs.

As of Monday, the Treasury Department suspended reinvestments by a number of retirement funds for civil servants and postal workers. The funds will be made whole once the debt limit is either suspended or increased. The Treasury uses emergency accounting maneuvers to conserve cash so the government can keep paying its obligations such as to social security recipients, along with veterans and others. However, should those measures run out, the Treasury could begin to miss payments on its obligations. If that were to happen it could trigger a default on U.S. debt.

When it comes to the debt limit there has never been any doubt as to where I stand. It would still be the soundest move to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling. That would be good news for the nation. But Republicans, being the scolds they naturally are, would be most scornful of such an outcome.

And so it goes.

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