Debt seal­ing Amer­ica’s fu­ture

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Along sum­mer of wran­gling over the debt may re­sult in Pres­i­dent Obama get­ting ev­ery­thing he wants. Some sen­a­tors are ter­ri­fied of los­ing po­lit­i­cal face if ad­di­tional bor­row­ing au­thor­ity is de­nied and a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down re­sults.

They’ve been mulling two op­tions — a White House-in­spired short-term debt­ceil­ing ex­ten­sion to post­pone tough de­ci­sions and a “backup plan” about which Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, said on July 20, “We have a plan to move for­ward over here, but un­til we hear from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, re­ally all our work here would be for naught.”

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell came up with the idea to hand Mr. Obama a blank check for $2.5 tril­lion.

The Ken­tucky Repub­li­can be­lieves a con­vo­luted pro­ce­dural scheme would pin the blame on the ad­min­is­tra­tion for cash­ing that check be­fore Elec­tion Day. There would be a vote on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions — but no drama — as an un­ob­tain­able two-thirds ma­jor­ity would be re­quired to block the in­crease. The blue­print makes no re­forms to the out-of­con­trol bud­getary process that got us in trou­ble in the first place.

Sen. Jim DeMint is de­ter­mined to block it. “The much-dis­cussed ‘Plan B’ will not stop the down­grade in our bond rat­ing, is meet­ing stern op­po­si­tion in the House,” the South Carolina Repub­li­can told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “I will use ev­ery tool to stop it in the Se­nate.” Con­ser­va­tive grass-roots groups are equally ap­palled, par­tic­u­larly by Mr. Reid’s ad­di­tion of a com­mis­sion to pro­pose spend­ing re­duc­tions with­out ac­tu­ally re­quir­ing the cuts to hap­pen. The cha­rade would just rub in the mag­ni­tude of the de­feat.

In the back rooms, there’s talk of sweet­en­ing the deal for House Repub­li­cans by at­tach­ing $1.5 tril­lion in uniden­ti­fied spend­ing “cuts,” a fig­ure too small to make a dif­fer­ence in re­duc­ing the size and scope of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Sign­ing on to such a deal means sell­ing out the Amer­i­can peo­ple who gave the GOP a land­slide vic­tory just nine months ago.

There’s no easy and pain­less way out of this debt de­ba­cle, and stop-gap mea­sures now will only make it harder in the years ahead. If Repub­li­cans hand Mr. Obama a clean debt-ceil­ing in­crease, they won’t be able to wash their hands of the stain.

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