Debt Limit: Round II
Published December 3, 2017 / Updated August 30, 2020

Debt Limit: Round II

It’s payback time

by Chris Thomas

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US Nuclear Test “Castle Bravo”

The United States has a debt limit because Congress does things strangely. It authorizes programs in one bill, allocates spending for them in another bill, works out taxations (and therefore shortfalls) in a third bill, and finally authorizes borrowing in a final bill.

And none of these bills have to agree with each other.

The result is the debt-limit fight — an annual (or bi-annual, sometimes) tradition in Washington wherein Congress decides if it’s going to let the President borrow the difference between the money the government has and the money Congress has obligated it to spend. If it doesn’t, the government shuts down. It’s lunacy, but it’s politically useful lunacy.

How’s it useful?

If Congress has to vote to raise the debt limit that means it has to pass a bill. Passing a bill means clearing a bill through the Senate and clearing a bill through the Senate means overcoming a filibuster, especially if the Senate minority feels shut out of the legislative process.

Which brings us to the Trump Tax Cut: a more perfect example of the minority being shut out of the legislative process is difficult to imagine. Democrats could use the shutdown as leverage to stall or even stop Trump’s corporate tax cut if they take a hardline stance on the issue and refuse to allow a vote on a debt limit bill until the tax cut is truly bipartisan.

But a shutdown is a bitter pill for Democrats to swallow. Far more so than Republicans, the overarching narrative of the Democratic Party is that government can do good. Shutting down government services disproportionately impacts democratic voters, who are more likely to be urban, well educated, and therefore dependant upon the very services that would cease when the government shuts down.

And there are other issues on the table as well. The Dreamers, Net Neutrality, and the Mueller investigation are all political knives to be wielded in the debt-ceiling fight.

It’s a a hell of a gamble.

Tell Congress what you think!

Congress is running out of time to address the debt ceiling which is one of the reasons why the Republicans have been in such a rush to pass their corporate tax cut. Text RESIST to 50409 to tell your representatives or Senators what you think about this or any other issue before Congress or use Facebook messenger to do the same thing by clicking here.

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