I read with interest Gary Horton’s Feb. 1 column when I saw the word “extort” in the headlines. Extortion is a pretty powerful word, so I wondered who was extorting whom, and by what means.
Mr. Horton’s headline refers to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Republicans “extorting America” when it comes to the debt ceiling. I decided to do some research on the debt ceiling and the so-called “mess” when there is a Republican House and a Democratic president.
I would submit that all kinds of messes could be found when Democrats occupied the White House and had the majority in both houses. But I digress, and that’s a different story for a different day. Today, I submit that the true “mess” is growing the national debt by $3.8 trillion in the first two years of the Biden presidency. A “mess” is reaching $31.4 trillion in debt — $247,000 per taxpayer — according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. So if it’s a “mess” to talk about how we are going to pay our debts without getting into MORE debt, I am happy McCarthy is cognizant about the debt ceiling and Mr. Horton should be, too.
Mr. Horton goes on to attack “Republican leadership” when leaders talked about the government shutdowns. Democrats do not occupy the high ground here. We cannot keep spending without a way to pay for it. I cannot max out my Visa card and then say I am not going to pay, and then go increase my limit to go spend more. It doesn’t work that way. About 76% of voters in this country see the national debt as a top-three issue, including 69% of Democrats, 72% of independents and 88% of Republicans, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Survey conducted at the end of 2022.
It occurred to me that Horton’s article did not address Joe Biden’s position on the debt ceiling while in the Senate.
If Mr. Horton is going to talk about “clowns in the car,” surely he is aware of Sen. Joe Biden voting against raising the debt ceiling in 2003. In 2004, Biden missed the vote on raising the debt ceiling but later demanded his objection to the vote raising the debt ceiling to be memorialized and printed in the congressional record to confirm his intent to “cast a symbolic vote against it.” Again in 2006, Biden voted “no” on raising the debt ceiling from $8.18 trillion to $8.965 trillion, delivering a fire-and-brimstone speech against raising the debt limit “in response to utter disregard for our nation’s financial future.” He then criticized the “indifference to the price our children and grandchildren will pay to redeem the debt when it comes due.” Biden claimed that history would not look kindly on the record of raising the debt ceiling. And yet he and the Democrats expect to be judged differently now, 17 years later? Does Biden no longer care about our children and grandchildren? Are we now to criticize McCarthy for holding the same position Biden held over several years and several votes in the Senate? Was that a clown show then, or only now when Republicans are in the majority?
I submit that there has been no greater spectacle of indifference than the last two years of spending under Biden. The economic futures of our children and grandchildren have been crushed with the FY 2022 $1.7-trillion, 4,000-page Omnibus Spending Bill. See $70 million for salmon; $3 million for “bee-friendly highways,” $410 million for “enhanced border security in the Middle East, to name a few earmarks; $48 billion to Ukraine in one year, the $740 billion Reconciliation Inflation Reduction Act, and much more. It appears Biden’s tune of concern and refusal to raise the debt limit as a senator has now changed. And it’s way off key.
Mr. Horton claims, “None of this debt ceiling brinkmanship happened when Democrats last held the House.” Let’s be fair — it happened in 2003, 2005 and 2006 when Senate Democrats opposed debt ceiling increases and made Republicans take on the task. Focusing solely on the time period/the votes during the Trump administration that squarely match Mr. Horton’s argument is disingenuous at best. Regrettably, Congress has raised or suspended the debt ceiling 80 times since 1960. At what point do we stop?
I don’t think Kevin McCarthy or the Republicans are extorting anyone trying to stop runaway spending, Someone somewhere has to do something. I for one am glad Kevin McCarthy is that person.