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Last Week's Debt Ceiling Vote

April 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

When Congress comes back from recess, raising the debt ceiling to accommodate necessary borrowing will be on the top of the agenda. It’s estimated that the current $14.3 trillion limit is going to be surpassed in mid-May, and if Congress does not pass an increase in the limit by then the Treasury will have to begin withholding federal payments or default on its intergovernmental obligations. Republicans in the House are threatening to vote down an increase if their spending demands are not met. However, they (all but four of them) have already gone down on the record in favor of increasing the debt limit — by $2 trillion next year and by nearly $9 trillion over the next decade.

The legislative text below come from the Republican House budget that was passed on Friday:

(5) DEBT SUBJECT TO LIMIT- Pursuant to section 301(a)(5) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the appropriate levels of the public debt are as follows:

Fiscal year 2012: $16,204,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2013: $17,177,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2014: $17,951,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2015: $18,697,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2016: $19,503,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2017: $20,245,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2018: $20,968,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2019: $21,699,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2020: $22,408,000,000,000.

Fiscal year 2021: $23,102,000,000,000.

Point is, the debt ceiling debate happens in the budget process. When budgets are created, plans to increase the debt ceiling in the future are established. Voting on the actual increases in the future are matters of routine, historically handled by the majority party without too much dissent. As the Senate and House work out their 2012 budget resolution, the level of debt should be considered and debated along with Medicare, taxes, discretionary spending, etc. That way the debate over our fiscal future happens without putting the country’s financial reputation at risk.

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  • DeborahJBrown 04/20/2011 3:41am

    This year is very different from past years. The Republican party is clearly a divided party – Republicans and Tea Party extremists. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Ja4ed 04/20/2011 12:40pm

    In 2006, then Senator Obama said the following:

    “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

  • patriot1789 04/21/2011 5:55pm

    This is insane! Another 10 trillion dollars in debt over the next ten years! What are we doing America? This has got to stop. What in the heck good is a debt limit when you only raise it? This debt threatens EVERY American and should be opposed by every American. I would propose allowing a 5 trillion dollar raise in the limit but only with a balanced budget amendment attached. Also no new taxes. Most Americans pay over 40 percent in taxes when the eight million different taxes are factored in.

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