(UPDATED: 7/5/2012) The summer of 2012 will be another nail biter in American politics. Once again, the increase of the debt ceiling will be up for a vote and the Republicans seem to be holding ground again. Once a formality, the debt ceiling has become a major partisan issue, with the Democrats wanting to pay for what they spend, and Republicans wanting to cut social programs to pay down the nations debt.
This past May, Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, made it clear that the Republicans were going to repeat the debt ceiling standoff of 2011, throwing the U.S economy into disarray and placing a question mark on how the country moves forward.
“When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see…to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance.”
The debt ceiling is the amount of money that the United States can legally borrow and spend to pay back its citizens and bond holders. The current debt ceiling limit is set at $16.394 trillion and the country’s current debt is $15.7 trillion. According to Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, the amount of spending done by the United States will hit the current debt ceiling by the end of 2012.
The debt ceiling was created in 1917 and since 1962, has been raised 76 times. While Republicans condemn the idea of raising the debt ceiling, it was raised 18 times under the Reagan Administration when he tripled the national debt and raised 19 times under President George W. Bush. The utter hypocrisy of the current Republican party is clear and as each day passes, they seem to forget about their past.
The Republican party started their shift in economic conservatism during the 1980s under the Reagan Administration. With economists like Art Laffer and Jude Wanniski whispering in the ear of Ronald Reagan, the wealth inequality continued to grow and the wealth gap was widening. Taxes were cut drastically, mostly on the wealthy, and middle class workers were feeling the weight of the entire economy on their shoulders. After tripling the debt and raiding the social security trust fund, Ronald Reagan left office in January of 1989. Incoming Republican president, George H.W Bush was forced to renege on his claim of “No new taxes” and was forced to raise them to make up the debt left by Reagan.
As the years went on, the debt ceiling was largely a bipartisan effort that didn’t cause much headway. If the country follows the path of the current Republican party, millions of Americans will be in need. Instead of asking the wealthiest Americans to finally contribute a reasonable amount in taxes, Republicans are willing to tear apart social safety nets for low income families, cut programs like Medicaid and break the backs of democracy in the workplace, otherwise known as a workers union.
President Obama might not have all the answers, but his polices reflect a fair balance between government and business, giving every American a chance to succeed on a level playing field. The current group of Republicans, led by a Tea Party surge, have an obsession with austerity and cutting programs that can only lead the United States into an economic ditch.