In one of its last acts before adjourning for a winter break, the House of Representatives passed legislation that raises the amount of debt the US government is legally allowed to owe by an amount of $290 billion to a record $12.4 trillion in allowable government debt. The 218-214 vote saw unanimous Republican opposition, though they did vote last year to raise the debt limit before they realized that returning to some semblance of their fiscal conservative roots might be a good idea both for their image and for the country. If the bill hadn’t passed, the government would have had to delay some of its payouts, a bad situation to be sure, and one which makes its passage in the Senate seemingly assured.
One would think that coming so close to defaulting on government payouts would give Congress and the White House pause on tacking on more spending items to a fiscal year with an already record $1.4 trillion deficit. Not so for the Democrats, however, as President Obama yesterday signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that increases budgets in many areas of government by up to 10%. Yes, you read that right – $1.1 trillion for a measure that helps out government agencies. A responsible thing to do might be to tighten the belt and curb spending, but instead Obama and the Democrats have determined that the only way back to prosperity is to spend our way back to it.
Meanwhile, the House passed a $155 billion “jobs” bill that provides for “shovel-ready” construction projects and saving the jobs of public employees. Hmmm, let me see, wasn’t there some other bill passed back in February that was supposed to engender “shovel-ready” projects and “create or save” millions of jobs? The passage of this bill seems like a tacit admission that the first stimulus bill didn’t work as advertised, and the solution is simply to throw more money at the problem – the quintessential government solution to pretty much any dilemma it faces.
So much for all that lofty “pay-go” rhetoric President Obama was spouting just a few months ago. Whatever justification is given for more spending and higher debt, the nation simply cannot sustain it. It seems Democrats are so adverse to being labelled “tax-and-spend” that they’ve become something much worse – “spend-and-tax,” where the government irresponsibility comes up front before the rest of us have to pay for the adventures with our rising taxes on our incomes, our energy, and our health care. No matter what one’s political ideology, the most basic responsibility of our government is to act judiciously with the money of the American people. Other administrations have helped contribute to the problem, but the current cast of characters is exacerbating the issue instead of helping.
We can’t keep it up. We can’t spend our way back to happiness. But we’ll sure go more broke trying.