Will Congress Keep Raising The Debt Ceiling?

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The only chance that Republican House members and other Congressmen have to cap the rise of new spending bills is to put a ceiling on the national debt. There are simply too many expensive programs such as health care coming through the legislature which have too much support to attack the federal debt issue one bill at a time.

Congress barely passed increasing the upper limit on the national debt to $12.394 trillion. The vote was 218 for and 214 against.

The new limit will be tested within two months according to most estimates. That means that the issue will be debated again right after the holiday recess. Thirty Democrats voted against increasing the ceiling, so there is no assurance that Congress will keep inching the cap higher.

If there is one action that could derail the Administration’s spending plans on health care, economic stimulus, and unemployment assistance, it is an ad hoc decision by Congressmen who have little in common with one another beyond a concern that the national debt will cause higher taxes or unsupportable debt service. A vote to hold the debt ceiling where it is would force the federal government to comb through programs and take out what would have to be explained as “non essential” spending.

“When will it stop? When will Washington get the message that we can’t borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing America,” Representative Mike Pence, the No. 3 Republican in the House, asked. Sooner than many people expect if a dozen members of Congress change their votes on increase the debt limitation the next time the issues comes to the floor.

Douglas A. McIntyre