American Elephants

House Defeats President Obama’s Request to Raise the Debt Ceiling, 318-97. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have demanded a “clean vote” on raising the national debt ceiling, that is, without any cuts to spending or reforms to the budget process.  The House Republicans today took them up on it. It was, of course, a bit of stagecraft, for everyone recognized that the bill was doomed to fail.

In America, unlike other countries, federal law requires Congress to authorize the government to borrow any money that is needed to pay for the programs that Congress has passed. In recent years, as the national debt has grown, the Treasury has periodically bumped up against this debt limit.

On May 16, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner formally told Congress that the government would have reached its $14,294 trillion debt limit that day, but for “extraordinary measures” to buy time for lawmakers to increase the limit on borrowing.

The American people want cuts to spending programs. They fear the consequences of more debt, and want some serious action on the part of Congress.  The Obama budget for fiscal 2012 was unanimously rejected last week in the Senate, a humiliating 0-97. According to a new Gallup poll, Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling 47% to 19%.

Liberals, of course, do not want to cut anything, except maybe Defense, and want a “Debt-Failsafe Trigger” which would empower unelected bureaucrats to increase taxes as a means to balance the budget.  This is a real danger.

However, Mission Accomplished! The vote today went as expected, and was a way of clearing the air to show that any attempt to separate an increase in the debt ceiling from spending reduction cannot win Congressional approval. The House defeated Obama’s request to raise the debt ceiling— 318-97.  Nearly half of Democrats voted with the Republicans to defeat the measure— 82 explicitly voted against it including Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, which shows how nervous the White House is at being on the wrong side of this issue.  10 members did not vote.

President Obama is having a bad spell. His budget has been unanimously dumped. His Mideast foreign policy was a flop. He went on a high-visibility tour of Europe that wasn’t well received, and Joplin Missouri was flattened, but he neglected to return. He laid a wreath on Memorial Day, but neglected the customary visit to returned vets in Bethesda and Walter Reed, in order to play golf.  He has only himself to blame.

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