A nonpartisan and knowledgeable voice on US debt and deficit concerns

From the desk of Maya MacGuineas of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. I will offer no additional comment as it speaks for itself.

“Today, the Treasury Department announced that it has begun engaging in a set of accounting tools known as “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the nation’s $31.38 trillion statutory debt limit. Those measures are expected to delay that breach until at least early June and possibly later.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

Without qualification, the debt limit must be increased or suspended, and it should be done so as quickly as possible. Ideally, we would return to the practice of lifting the debt ceiling without relying on extraordinary measures – which have become all too ordinary – and refrain from making the increase anything close to a last-minute showdown.

The debt ceiling is too important to turn into a game of chicken, and default should never be suggested by those with a fiduciary responsibility to govern the nation. Politicians who are rightly worried about the nation’s unsustainable borrowing path should take a hard stance against new borrowing and oppose legislation that would add to the debt while offering specific solutions to control the debt already on the books, rather than threatening not to pay the bills on borrowing that has already been incurred.

The debt ceiling does offer the opportunity for all lawmakers to pause, assess the fiscal situation of the nation, and take action as necessary. And it is necessary. The debt as a share of GDP is at near record levels. We are on track to begin adding $2 trillion per year to the debt by the end of the decade. Interest payments are the fastest growing part of the budget and are projected to start costing $1 trillion annually in only a few years. The Social Security and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds are headed toward insolvency. And last year alone, Congress and the President passed bipartisan legislation that added nearly $2 trillion to the projected national debt. This is an urgent problem that is not getting the attention it needs.

An ideal solution would be for Congress to lift the debt ceiling as soon as possible and at the same time put in place measures to improve our fiscal trajectory. This could include specific policies or processes such as a fiscal commission.

Attaching fiscal reforms to the debt limit was common practice in the past when both policies and processes to improve fiscal responsibility were included as part of a deal. More recently, in a jaw-dropping act of fiscal irresponsibility, politicians in both parties pivoted to support debt ceiling increases along with legislation that made the debt worse. Under President Trump, the debt ceiling was lifted three times with bipartisan support and included legislation that added in total a stunning $2.1 trillion in new borrowing to the debt.

Congress should return to the past model of a debt ceiling increase, legislation to improve the fiscal situation, and a broad based understanding that the debt ceiling must be increased in a calm and timely manner. We must not threaten default. The cost is simply too high.“


11 thoughts on “A nonpartisan and knowledgeable voice on US debt and deficit concerns

  1. Note to Readers: I encourage you to become more aware of this group, as they are indeed a nonpartisan organization that commands respect from both political parties and others. I just wish they would listen to Ms. MacGuineas and her colleagues. Republicans refuse to listen to the need to increase taxes and Democrats don’t want to discuss needed spending cuts. As I have noted many times, the path forward on reducing our debt must include both tactics, which was the conclusion of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee twelve years ago, when the debt was about 1/4 of what it is now. Please feel free to route this information. Their newsletters are brief given the subject matter.

  2. Of course what she says makes perfect sense … after all, that’s what her position is all about. But of course our fiscally-responsible (JOKE!) politicians are far smarter and wiser, right?

    I really hate to say it, but in so many ways, this country is going down the tubes.

    • Nan, the current breed of politicians leaves a far cry from the Bill Bradley, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, Ted Kennedy crowd where they art least did their homework. A few measure up, but we have way too many that don’t and sadly I can name many of them top of mind. Keith

    • Agreed. One of my biggest arguments with a Congressperson’s staff is someone who liked MacGuineas but ignored much of her message on remedies. It is akin to politicians liking the CBO when their analysis supports an argument, but saying they are being unfair when it doesn’t. Keith

      • Exactly. Or, it is like a person going to the doctor for an ailment and only following his/her advice as long as he likes it. (I’m guilty of that, too, since I’m still a 3-pack-a-day smoker!)

  3. Pingback: A nonpartisan and knowledgeable voice on US debt and deficit concerns — musingsofanoldfart | The Voice of the Voiceless

  4. Note to Readers: Many moons ago, I used to think members of Congress benefitted from better information which they studied to help make better decisions. I no longer feel that way. While there are exceptions, too many in Congress are too beholden to what influence peddlers are telling them as well as what PR people think are the more advantageous decisions for getting votes. These two sources do not lead to good governance and often derail that mission. We need listen to folks like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

  5. Note to Readers: Per an article in The Hill, here is summary of the impact of the recent Republican led-House bill to reverse the added IRS funding:

    “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated Monday that the legislation would cut federal spending by $71 billion, but would reduce tax revenue to the tune of almost $186 billion. The net effect would be a $114 billion increase in deficits over the next decade.”

    Note these are the same Republicans holding the debt ceiling hostage who simultaneously would increase it by $114 billion.

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