October 23 2013
Making Friends with the Debt Ceiling
The debt ceiling debates in Congress are always traumatic for the nation. We worry about what will happen to the world, the nation, and, not too put too fine a point on it, our own savings if the U.S. were to go into default.
But you know what would be far worse: not having those clashes because the president doesn’t have to ask to raise the debt ceiling. Well, that is what Senator Chuck Schumer is proposing. The Democratic senator is pushing a bill that would take the debt ceiling out of the hands of Congress and let the president raise it unilaterally.
This has already happened—but only temporarily. President Obama can raise the debt ceiling without Congress until February 7. Schumer wants to make this arrangement, which some say is unconstitutional, permanent:
“If we were to do [remove Congress from the debt ceiling issue], the chances of going up to the brink again, the chances of this kind of debacle, will decrease,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Schumer doesn’t understand that, unless we could bring back Calvin Coolidge, we’d soon be at another and far worse brink. We could end up spending at an even more unsustainable pace. The Weekly Standard has a report from Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee showing that the U.S. has spent $3.7 trillion on welfare over the last five years. Does anybody seriously doubt that President Obama wouldn’t have spent even more if he were solely in charge of the nation’s purse?
Aside from the horrifying notion of President Obama unbridled, the Schumer proposal runs deeply counter to our history. Betsy McCaughey tells us why:
Last Sunday on Meet the Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York announced he will propose legislation to permanently take control of the debt limit away from Congress and give it to the president. It’s a dictator’s dream come true. The framers of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress alone power to borrow, tax, and decide how public revenues are spent. They wanted to prevent a president from spending excessively and saddling the public with huge debts. That’s what the despotic kings of Europe had done.
Article 1 Sect. 8 states that “Congress shall have the Power To lay and collect Taxes…to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general welfare of the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States.”
Schumer’s proposal stuffs the Constitution in the waste basket. It would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling, subject only to a two-thirds vote of disapproval by both houses of Congress. That’s no more constitutional than allowing the president to impose whatever taxes he wants, unless two-thirds of both houses disapprove.
The debt ceiling debate has become frightening because we fear that we now have leaders who just might let us default if they thought they could blame somebody else.
But the debt ceiling debate is all that stands between us and spending like we’ve never seen before—and what we’ve seen is pretty depressing.