January 12, 2013

Another View: Congressional Republicans right to make debt ceiling an issue


A recent editorial argues that Republicans shouldn't oppose another increase in the country's debt ceiling, even if it means that Congress continues to spend like it has a no-limit credit card ("Congress should not use debt ceiling as hostage," Jan. 8).

In a recent report on debt reduction options, the Congressional Budget Office notes that "a wide gap exists between the future cost of the services that the public has become accustomed to receiving from the federal government -- especially in the form of benefits for older people -- and the tax revenues that the public has been sending to the government to pay for those services."

This gap, which the CBO projected to be around $2.3 trillion over the next 10 years, has widened by another $4 trillion as a result of the tax rate and tax break extensions in the fiscal cliff deal, and will widen further if $1.2 trillion of scheduled spending cuts are repealed or reduced. No one wants to increase middle-class taxes, and President Obama and Senate Democrats oppose entitlement reform and most spending reductions. The editorial proposes tax reform to close the gap, but Republicans have already made that suggestion without success.

Spending is easy and reductions are unpopular and hard. The unfolding debacle in southern Europe has given us a preview of how the bleak financial trajectory we are on ends. Yet many of our politicians, most of the media and a large segment of the public remain in deep denial about the consequences of constant overspending and the accumulation of debt. This is why we need the debt ceiling debate.

Martin Jones is a resident of Freeport.

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