This morning I was thinking about the dear old debt ceiling and what an utterly pointless and destructive bit of uselessness it is. I was reminded of a rant I gave on this very topic back in December of 2012 in which I compare the debt ceiling to fiscal syphilis. Unfortunately I still feel that way. The very fact that this rant could have been given any time over the last 2 years tells me that it’s time we demanded an end to or at least defanging of the debt ceiling. Otherwise even if we escape the current crisis, we will find ourselves here again in several months wondering why we choose to afflict ourselves with fiscal syphilis.
Here is my rant from December 6, 2012:
Yesterday the President warned Congressional Republicans not to mess with him and the country when it comes to raising the debt ceiling.
Oh debt ceiling. If I had to describe you in one word, it would be seducer. That’s right…seducer, you naughty debt ceiling, you. Members of Congress got together and gorged themselves at the table of deficit spending, ordering up Porterhouse sized tax cuts for their rich friends and a heaping helping of extended unemployment benefits for their out of work neighbors.
Now the bill comes due and when it’s time to whip out the national credit card, you whisper your sweet nothings into the Tea Party’s ear and the GOP threatens to dine and dash as a matter of “principle.” After all, who wants to put $16 trillion on the national credit card? Who is pro-debt? No one. GOP extremists get to pretend they are the adults in the room, railing about spending that has already happened and that they agreed to. And the best part, you naughty naughty debt ceiling, you offer them the chance to get some more goodies in the form of more tax cuts for their rich benefactors or the righteous thrill of cutting Medicaid assistance from those Obama-loving takers.
For nearly a hundred years now, you were this boring, nondescript wallflower, never drawing attention to yourself. When Congress, through spending and tax cuts, came up against your limits, you were raised without a word…they barely gave you a second glance. Sure it was a waste of time to have to deal with you but waste of time is what Congress does! You’ve been raised 74 times since the 60’s, 18 times under Reagan alone!
You saw wars, peace, a man on the moon, and no matter how you batted your fiscal eyelashes, nobody cared. Invisible. Now, all of the sudden, the Tea Partiers can’t keep their hands off you.
Like a case of fiscal syphilis you now put the entire body in peril. Yes, I know this disease is no fault of your own. Congressional Republicans have decided that consequences be damned: threatening the country with national default by refusing to lift you (after having already voted to cut taxes and spend until you absolutely must be raised) is a useful tool for getting their way. I know you love all the attention, but seriously, debt ceiling, this isn’t a harmless flirtation.
I know you think that no sane person or party would actually cause a national default for the sake of a temper tantrum and the chance for a few extra fiscal goodies, the chance to cop a fiscal feel, if you will. But alas, we have looked into their eyes, and they actually seem crazy enough to do it.
And so dear debt ceiling, it’s time to say goodbye. You can’t seduce our Congress any more with your promises of phony courage and self-righteous hostage taking…the gig’s up, dear, but I do know this great looking bunch in China that we’d love for you to meet.
Funny. The years change, but almost everything else stays the same.