Talk about down to the wire: In June, with just two days to spare, President Joe Biden signed legislation that removed the United States $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, ostensibly allowing the U.S. Treasury to borrow more than it had in the past, and more significantly preventing the U.S. from defaulting on its commitments for the very first time.
The bill was signed after the administration was able to reach an agreement with Republican leaders in the legislature – something the White House is highlighting while seemingly downplaying the fact that the government will end up in deeper debt than ever.
White House Offers Credit, and Blame, for Staving Off Shutdown
“Thank you to Speaker McCarthy, Leader Jeffries, Leader Schumer, and Leader McConnell for their partnership,” the White House press release read.
The release, which was uncharacteristically short, also indicated that the bill also had a provision that would raise the debt ceiling in 2025.
“It was critical to reach an agreement, and it’s very good news for the American people. No one got everything they wanted. But the American people got what they needed,” Biden later told the press.
It’s not wrong to applaud bipartisanship in an era marked with almost extreme political polarization, especially in this case – Republicans voiced strong opposition to the bill when it was first put forward, and actually passed legislation of their own to address the debt ceiling. “He either has to negotiate now or we’re the only ones that have raised the debt limit,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said. Biden, who initially wanted an all-or-nothing bill, was forced to come to the negotiating table.
Joe Biden Won’t Tackle the Debt – It Could Destroy Us All
But the real problem is that the U.S. appears to be spending beyond its means, and that’s something we all should be worried about.
Biden has touted that, “Because of the strength of the recovery and responsible winding down of emergency programs, the deficit fell by $1.7 trillion in the first two years of the Biden-Harris Administration compared to the year before the President took office.”
But the deficit is NOT the budget, which is an important distinction to make. Reducing the deficit doesn’t really make a difference if we’re operating with a bigger budget made possible by more debt.
However, the blame does not lie with Biden alone. The U.S. has been operating under a deficit for many, many years now, and the trend has always been to increase spending. The ideal is to run a surplus – something the government has only done five times in the last five decades, and the most recent one was way back in 2001.
And Americans ARE concerned with how much the government is spending. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 57 percent of Americans want the President and Congress to prioritize reducing the deficit. Pew also notes that “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are still far more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners (71 percent vs. 44 percent) to view cutting the deficit as a leading priority.”
We don’t (or more like we shouldn’t) need Janet Yellen’s “extraordinary measures” to prevent the government from defaulting on its obligations. We need to get our priorities straight and reflect TRUE bipartisanship, not the terse wheeling-and-dealing “this is mine, this is yours” approach that bipartisanship has devolved into. The government needs to work towards what the American people need and want. And just reducing the deficit just doesn’t cut it.
No nation can borrow and borrow money forever and ever. That’s how countries decline and eventually fall off the world’s stage. That is something Joe Biden needs to consider – before its too late.
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.
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