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Right Turn
Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 06/01/2011

So much for a ‘clean’ debt limit increase

President Obama last December didn’t want to extend the Bush tax cuts. This year he didn’t want further cuts to the 2011 budget. And he and his economic team demanded a “clean vote” on the debt ceiling limit. He’s now 0-3. The Post reported:

With an August deadline looming, the House overwhelmingly refused Tuesday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing, setting the stage for a long, sweaty summer of haggling over the shape of the largest debt-reduction package in at least two decades.

Not a single GOP lawmaker voted to support the measure to raise the limit on the national debt from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion — a sum sufficient to cover the government’s bills through the end of next year. Republican leaders said their troops would reject any increase without a plan to sharply curtail spending and, thus, future borrowing.

What is significant is the degree to which the debate has shifted, and with it a chunk of the House Democratic caucus. As The Post noted:

Polls show a higher debt limit is extremely unpopular with a large majority of voters, which has left Democrats leery of calling for an increase. On Tuesday, as the House voted 318 to 97 against raising the limit, nearly half of House Democrats sided with the Republicans. In so doing, they ignored a long-standing request from the Obama administration to boost the limit before plunging into a complex and politically difficult battle over the size of the federal budget.

The assertion that Republicans were endangering the country by demanding cuts in exchange for the debt ceiling increase has been disproven. (“ ‘I didn’t even know they had a vote tonight, to be honest with you,’ said Ian Lyngen, a senior government bond strategist at CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Conn. ‘The only real event that the market is focused on is the point at which they run out of money and have to shut down the government.’ ”)

So, as with the 2011 budget, the question is now how much to cut, whether to cut or how much more to spend. For that, the Tea Party movement and the House Republicans can take credit. Could it be that soon it will be equally unpopular to do nothing about the collapsing entitlement programs?

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 06/01/2011

Categories:  Budget

 
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