Crashing Into The Debt Ceiling


American passed an important milestone in the annals of Big Government last month, as the national debt finally crossed the $14 trillion mark.  Thank heavens!  It seemed like it had been stuck at $13 trillion forever.

Actually, it was only stuck at $13 trillion since June of 2010.  That’s right – a trillion bucks in seven months.  That’s not just bad government.  It’s a meltdown.

We’ll hit another magic number very soon: $14.294 trillion.  That’s the statutory debt ceiling, established by Congress and signed by President Obama last year.  If the debt ceiling is not raised, Austan Goolsbee of the White House Council of Economic Advisers says there will be “forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together… mass hysteria!”  No, wait, that was the Ghostbusters.  Goolsbee was a little more restrained, saying it would be “insanity,” and the “impact on the economy would be catastrophic.”  The government would have to stop borrowing money, and might default on its obligations.

That sounds pretty awful.  I guess we’d better start raising that debt ceiling.  Would fifteen trillion be enough, or should we just cut to the chase and make it twenty?  At Obama spending rates, another measly trillion might just get us to the end of 2011, and then we’d have to confront “insanity” again.  If we’re just going to raise it again anyway, why put ourselves through all that fuss?

Or… here’s a crazy idea… we could just make the government stop running up debt.  Then we could leave that ceiling right where it is.  Heck, we might be able to lower it eventually.

Senator Jim DeMint has been pondering that crazy idea.  In an interview with Human Events editor Jason Mattera, he said a government shutdown isn’t something anyone wants, but “it’s not something we should be so afraid of that we’re willing to cave in to more debt.”  He thinks Americans “expect us to fight more spending and more debt.”  Austen Goolsbee awakens to find himself in a vast asylum full of lunatics who think $14 trillion in debt is more than enough.

DeMint went on to say, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills.  It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.”  No, wait, that was the Ghostbusters too.  Or was it…?  Dang, I got my notes all mixed up.  That was actually Senator Barack Obama in 2006, as quoted by Katrina Trinko at National Review.  He was explaining his vote against raising the debt ceiling.

The Goolsbee position is that our only choices are raising the debt ceiling, or detonating the entire government with a thermonuclear default.  There’s another choice he doesn’t want to talk about, because the Obama worldview is that our economy is entirely dependent on massive government spending – in Goolsbee’s own words, it would be “catastrophic” if we merely stopped increasing it.

Americans should reject that worldview vigorously and completely.  We have the proof that Goolsbee is the crazy one.  It’s the debt ceiling his boss said it would be “reckless” to increase, not five years ago.  This nation did not become a trillion dollars more anemic and helpless in five years.  We spend over $411 billion per year simply financing this debt.  You want to talk about insanity?  What about the madness of a central government that wants to increase its budget even further, when better than 12 percent of it instantly vanishes in a cloud of interest payments?

Senator DeMint says it’s time for a “showdown.”  He’s right.  End this madness now.  It won’t be any easier when the usual suspects start crying about the impossibility of running the country beneath a $15 trillion debt ceiling next Christmas.