The federal statutory debt ceiling makes for good policy. Congressional Democrats who want to repeal it to give themselves a permanent blank check to spend American taxpayer dollars are equal parts smug elites and constitutional vandals.
Congressional Republicans should absolutely fight to defend the statutory debt limit this year and leverage it next year to extract badly needed spending reforms from President Joe Biden and his party.
That the sentences above are considered uncouth inside the Beltway is not evidence of Washington elites’ supple political sophistication, but of their chronic political disconnect from the nation they serve.
Contrary to the phony narrative coming soon to an editorial page near you, the debt ceiling is not a formality. It is not an anachronism or a symbol. It is an indispensable tool, specifically designed to protect taxpayers and check the ambitions of entitled politicians. The contempt elites in both parties have for the debt ceiling is compelling evidence for its value.
By the same logic, lawmakers who demand spending fixes in exchange for raising the debt limit are not threatening the full faith and credit of the United States — they are protecting it, by using the tool exactly as it was designed.
To listen to media and liberal elites, federal spending growth is a kind of sacrament, and anything that checks it sullies its holy purity.
The Constitution and federal law are thick with restrictions on government’s ability to spend your money. The Origination Clause. The Spending Clause. Appropriations time limits. Since our founding, Americans have always known that politicians cannot be trusted with a blank check with your name on it.
This timeless truth takes on new urgency today, as federal overspending triggered America’s worst inflation crisis in 40 years, and a new recession. For the first time in a generation, wages are not keeping up with prices. The costs of gasoline, food, and housing have exploded as Biden and congressional Democrats drowned the economy in almost $5 trillion in additional deficit spending in less than two years.
And with the Federal Reserve having “bought” nearly all of the debt from Congress’s new spending — that is, just printed more money like someone cheating at “Monopoly” — Biden’s only fiscal plan is … more spending!
Meanwhile, this administration continues to mindlessly block domestic energy production, refuses to end COVID-19 spending despite the end of the pandemic, and wants to pour gasoline on the fire with an illegal student loan “forgiveness” plan. They watch from the sidelines as China gears up for a new Cold War – one in which we cannot prevail by stealing from our citizens to rack up credit card debt we never intend to pay off.
Moments like this — when the political class’s fiscal irresponsibility strangles our economy and threatens our national security — are why we have tools like the debt limit in the first place. In this environment, of course congressional Republicans should deny Biden an unconditional increase in the debt ceiling. To not lean into this fight — especially following a landslide electoral rebuke to the drunken sailors running Washington today — would be a dereliction of duty and political malpractice.
Moreover, the Biden administration is defending dysfunctional policies on so many fronts that conservatives can take their pick of any popular, meaningful reforms to demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, starting with a cap on government spending and putting the budget on a sustainable path.
Any Republican concerned about their embarrassing inability to parry the media’s narrative about partisan brinksmanship can simply insist that any debt limit bill be considered via an open amendment process on the House and Senate floors. Let moderate Democrats explain why Americans should be plunged deeper into their inflation chaos.
Debt-limit fights do not pit Republicans against Democrats, but Washington against the American people. That’s why both party establishments dislike them — and why a new generation of conservative leaders should relish one.
For two hard years, Washington elites have ignored fiscal — to say nothing of legal and constitutional — constraints on their ideological ambitions. And the country’s fiscal health is coming apart at the seams.
Republicans who campaigned on a promise to fix these very problems should resist any attempt by a lame-duck Congress to repeal the debt ceiling after the election. And they should unapologetically leverage Biden’s imminent request to raise the debt ceiling to begin keeping that promise.
They could not ask for a clearer, more winnable fight to kick off a new majority and keep their promises to constituents.