The Heritage released a video at the Foundry, this morning, expressing that feeling of “deja-vu” we all feel when it’s time for Washington to have their multi-annual debt ceiling debate.
As far as Washington is concerned, it’s like the movie Ground Hog Day where the Bill Murray’s character wakes up again and again on the same morning – and keeps making the same mistakes.
Depending on which party’s in power, the ones arguing for or against raising the debt ceiling will change—which makes for fun historical quotations like Obama vs. Obama on the debt limit. In our new video, you can see politicians from both sides arguing the debt limit—and vowing that they will not, absolutely not, have this same argument again next year.
FYI, since last Fall, Congress hasn’t been limiting the debt at all.
The government has actually been operating since October with no debt limit in place. Congress “suspended” it twice last year, and they’re considering doing it again—for an entire year.
Just since the limit was suspended in the fall, Washington has borrowed nearly $600 billion. So what happens if lawmakers throw up their hands and abandon the debt limit for a year? Romina Boccia, Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow, warns:
The debt limit serves as an important congressional check on federal spending and borrowing. Without a debt limit, all control over borrowing decisions shifts to the Treasury secretary, who is appointed by the president. Effectively, this concentrates borrowing authority in the executive branch, and hands the president a blank check to borrow against the U.S. taxpayer.
President Obama is already threatening to disregard Congress and use executive actions to make laws. Will he have all the borrowing power, too? Does Congress do anything anymore?
Members will take another vote at the end of February to determine what to do about the debt ceiling. In the meantime, the U.S. national debt reached nearly $17.3 trillion at midnight on February 7. As Boccia says, “The approach of that deadline should have sparked serious Congressional deliberations of how to reduce the growing debt burden on taxpayers.”
Republicans had been planning to tie the debt ceiling deal to the Keystone Pipeline, but now it looks like they’re taking Charles Krauthammer’s advice and are hoping to repeal the “risk corridors” in ObamaCare that allow for a taxpayer bailout for insurance companies.
That wish list, described to TIME by a House GOP leadership aide, represents a marker being laid down as the Obama Administration says the debt ceiling must be raised by the end of February, and as Democrats warn Republicans not to play a game of chicken with the nation’s credit rating again. The path toward approval of the controversial pipeline was cleared a bit last week by a State Department report that found minimal environmental impact in building the pipeline. So Republicans are leaning toward seeking a repeal of so-called risk corridors in the health-reform law instead. The risk corridors reimburse insurers buffeted by fewer healthy people signing up than they had originally expected, acting as a cost buffer during the experimental early years of health care reform.
The leadership aide described repealing the risk corridors as Republicans’ more likely target. Many Republicans are calling the program a government bailout of insurance companies, including Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, who chairs a coalition of House conservatives. “I think it would be a real tough position to sell to say that when we’re running out of money, when we’re maxing out our credit card, we should also be borrowing money from China to bail out insurance companies,” Scalise told TIME last month.