The time needed to find consensus on an increase in the debt ceiling is fading quickly. In recent weeks, political disagreements over how to responsibly increase revenues and trim spending and entitlement programs have led to a breakdown in negotiations. Republicans unified opposition to any revenue increases through changes in the tax code, such as dropping subsidies for big oil companies, leaves little room for negotiation and compromise. It was not always this way. The debt limit has had to be increased 78 times since 1961. It has always been completed in a timely manner that didn’t seriously threaten the country’s credit rating.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has taken steps to delay a federal default on our financial obligations until August (including tapping into federal employee pension plans). But at the end of the day, the sole responsibility to increase our debt limit falls to Congress.
If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling in the coming weeks, the Federal Government risks defaulting on our debts, throwing credit markets into turmoil and creating the real risk of a devastating global economic collapse.
There are few questions as important to this country as deciding how we invest in our future without burying the next generation under a mountain of debt. The actions and proposals seen in recent months reflect a new Republican leadership style, one that has turned away from compromise and governing and toward hyper-partisan political gamesmanship. The choices before us are difficult and they demand serious decision making, not political posturing. Getting our fiscal house in order depends on smart spending cuts paired with increases in revenue.
On Monday, July 11, I am partnering with the nonprofit Concord Coalition to host an interactive workshop allowing constituents to directly enter this debate, by playing the role of lawmaker in determining how they would balance the budget. The program will put participants into groups of 8-10 people who will review current spending and revenue priorities, suggest principles for the future, and then apply those principles by selecting from several dozen options to bring the budget to balance. I invite you to join me at next Monday’s event by registering online: http://moran.house.gov/nreca_event.shtml.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.