Tuesday August 2 is, as has been widely publicized, the deadline by which the U.S. Congress must raise the nation’s debt ceiling limit in order to keep the country from defaulting on its loan obligations.
At this point, it is by no means certain that the Congress will vote soon enough to increase the debt ceiling. And some people, for good reason, are hitting the ceiling about that.
Some are hitting the ceiling because of the highly irresponsible position of the Tea Party congresspersons who have made it clear they will not vote to raise the ceiling no matter what. Rep. Michele Bachmann is one of those, and she has probably ruined any chance of receiving the Republican presidential nomination because of her intransigent position.
Others are hitting the ceiling because of the conditions linked to a promise to vote for raising the debt ceiling. Those conditions are related to the “cap, cut, and balance” bill that was, foolishly, passed by the House last week.
The problem is that the House Republicans’ proposal for cutting is not only of wasteful and unneeded government programs but also a cutting of Social Security benefits and cutting Medicare and Medicaid. On The Ed Show last Thursday, Ed Shultz was hitting the ceiling because he thought the President was “caving in” to proposed cuts in “the big three.”
While “hitting the ceiling” may be too strong an expression, a number of Christians, led by Jim Wallis (editor-in-chief of Sojourners), met with the President last week. They pleaded that cuts not be made which would negatively affect the poor and needy.
Wallis and his friends are a part of a group known as the Circle of Protection, which has been signed by many denominational leaders. Daniel Vestal, Executive Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, is one of the signers. (Many readers of this blog know, or know of, Dr. Vestal.)
I have also joined the Circle, which states, in part, “We are . . . committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.”
Some Democrats have even been sending Republican congresspersons appeals from President Reagan. During Reagan’s two terms, he presided over eighteen increases in the debt ceiling. He even publicly scolded Congress for playing hardball politics with the debt limit and bringing the nation “to the edge of default before facing its responsibility.”
It was in 1983 that Reagan “hit the ceiling,” declaring that "The full consequences of a default--or even the serious prospect of default--by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate."
But now, just eight days before the deadline, some congresspersons, like Rep. Bachmann, are saying they will not vote for raising the debt ceiling no matter what. Many others are seeking to “blackmail” the President by saying they will vote for it only if their conditions are met.
Some are so irresponsible as to even say that defaulting is no big deal and might even help the country! And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) has even suggested that the deadline was set for August 2 just so the matter would be settled in time for the President to celebrate his birthday with an extravagant fund-raising bash on August 3.
Maybe if we are not hitting the ceiling because of the government’s failure to raise the national debt ceiling we ought to be!