I lamented online Tuesday the loss to international efforts to deal with a growing threat from China due to Republican hostage-taking moves over the debt limit increase. President Joe Biden said he would end his overseas trip early to fly back to tend to the manufactured crisis from Congressional Republicans who think they can defy the rules of acting like grownups on this matter. Had he stayed with his itinerary meetings with India, Japan, and Australia would have been held and a strong united message would have emerged in regard to threats ranging from shipping lanes to China’s bellicose military maneuvers.
As we know, federal law requires Congress to authorize the government to borrow any money that is needed to pay for the programs that Congress has passed. Congress has increased or suspended the debt limit 78 times since 1960. We also know that Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times when Donald Trump was in the Oval Office. (As they should have.) Making it now a political football for the basest of reasons is a tactic the GOP has latched onto, and one that must be rejected if one is interested in the process of how government operates. We do not accept hostage-taking as a means for anyone on the world stage to extract what they wish, and we must not entertain that concept for domestic purposes, either. Raising the debt limit is the only path forward, and anything less is both reckless and irresponsible.
Not doing so has undermined our nation on the world stage.
As we are aware there has been a strong and consistent theme from the Biden Administration, one that has also been promoted and advocated by key foreign policy hands over the years, of countering China’s growing influence across the western Pacific. One of the problems from Washington over the years has been not paying attention to the needs and concerns of many countries. Beijing did take notice of that troubling matter and set up a variety of programs and funding to insert themselves into international equations. It is the use of that soft power that has been of great concern in the West to foreign policy thinkers. Rather than have an American president step foot in the next few days, and for the first time on a Pacific Island country, Biden instead needs to head back to Washington to hold Speaker McCarthy’s hands. The world is watching and saying things this family-friendly blog will only infer.
Forget that in Papua New Guinea, the host nation for this meeting scrambled to mobilize 1,000 security officers and invited the leaders of 17 other countries but that was then upended due to conservative members of Congress not understanding what the debt limit is, or the significance of unifying national interests against Chinese desires at usurping supply lines and attempting to expand their territory with the creation of islands. People who deal with these growing issues and confront them in their countries daily wonder what must be wrong with the Republican caucus to not be able to see real-world geo-political threats and not grasp they are of more importance than the whims of raising campaign money from a letter to the base about thwarted efforts at stopping an increase to the debt limit. The theatrics of the debt limit from the GOP is generated to garner campaign cash.
The Republicans play partisan games through their demands about paying for America’s debt. Meanwhile, the international community looks at this absurd attempt at blustering, undermining a president on a foreign trip, and the damage it does to the actual policy needs requiring Washington’s attention and wonders what has happened to the powerful nation they once knew. Republicans use their dysfunctional nature to make our nation look unreliable and weak on the world stage. That must be called out and shut down.
President Biden should invoke his constitutional authority under the 14th Amendment to raise the nation’s debt limit without having to pass legislation through Congress. There can be no hostage-taking if the would-be-victim refuses to be tied down or forced to kneel. Meanwhile, as this partisan mess spins and spins in D.C. we know there is growing evidence, as reported by U.S. surveillance, that some of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea are now “fully militarized”.