The Corner

Republicans Should Vote to Raise Debt Ceiling

I hate to get crossways with Andy and Vero, but I think that Republicans should go ahead with raising the debt ceiling, with very few strings attached. In fact, I only want one string attached: the condition that President Obama come deliver the following short speech to a joint session of Congress, with the numbers and other facts updated appropriately. No charge for the editorial suggestions, Mr. President!

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. [ED: Need to add: “And I’m sorry about that. In fact, my proposal would stack trillions of dollars more debt upon the backs of the American people. What am I thinking? Hell if I know!”] It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. [ED: Maybe a second apology here, as in: “To our children and grandchildren, I can only offer my sincere regrets, my condolences, and a new $15,000-a-year scholarship initiative for studying Chinese.”]

Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. [ED: Need to update that: “Under my brief watch, the national debt has soared $3.6 trillion, from $10.7 trillion to $14.3 trillion. Amazing, right? I mean, I used to talk a good game about this stuff, but balancing the budget has gone the way of closing Gitmo and trying KSM in NYC, if you know what I mean. Not happening!”] That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund [ED: Maybe add: “ — which, I probably ought to point out here, is an accounting fiction, so don’t go getting your hopes up, oldsters  — ”], borrowed from China and Japan, [ED: Maybe add: “whom we hope in the direst way will continue to finance these shenanigans . . . ”] borrowed from American taxpayers. [ED: Maybe add: “But probably less so from the bond market, where the big funds already have dumped our stuff and everybody else is getting sort of skeptical. Which is why I’m sending the entire executive team of Standard & Poor to Gitmo, which, in retrospect, I am pretty glad I kept open.”] And over the next five years, between now and 2011 [ED: Update], the president’s budget [ED: “my budget”] will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion [ED: “by almost another . . . . wait, that can’t be right. Really? That much? Good gracious!”]

Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. [ED: “Especially for an administration where the chief economic advisers have trouble with TurboTax.”] Some people may wonder why they matter. [ED: Maybe add: “Hell, I myself am tempted to pretend that they don’t, and probably would, if not for you Tea Party rubes.”] Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion [ED: Update with terrifying new figures.] on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America. [ED: Maybe update with rebuilding Libya, instead.]

And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest-growing expenses in the federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and states of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees [ED: “and train stations named after Joe Biden.”]; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health-care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on. [ED: “And about that . . . well, I’ll get back to you on that. After 2012.”]

Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. [ED: “And Libya needs windmills!”]

Republicans should throw on an extra $100 billion if he smokes a cigarette while delivering this speech.

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