By Harold Pease, Ph. D
Who says that bipartisanship does not exist in the Federal Government? In a largely secret and hurriedly framed agreement between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, representatives of both major political parties, agreed to delay for two years a real curb on their addiction to spending. Monday, November 2, 2015, Obama signed into law the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.” The establishment media played to the Democratic Party theme that it was necessary to avert a default on U.S. financial obligations coming the next day—the same message used to justify previous debt increases.
It essentially took fiscal responsibility off the table as an election issue. No one from either political party, at election time, really wants to deny constituents promised “goodies,” for which we have little hope of paying. The Senate gave approval on Friday and the President signed the following Monday. Only Rand Paul spoke against it in the Presidential debates and threatened to filibuster it the next day. “We will be giving President Obama a free pass to borrow as much money as he can borrow in the last year of his office,” he said on the Senate floor the next day standing beside a poster of a mock “unlimited credit card” issued to Mr. Obama.
The legislation raised the debt ceiling (caps on spending) an additional $80 billion- $50 billion for 2016 and $30 billion for 2017. The US national debt has reached $18.5 trillion having increased nearly $8 trillion since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. By the time he leaves office he alone will have doubled the national debt. Let me restate this. This amount is double what his 43 predecessors together have laid on the backs of our children. He is the most expensive president in our history and in the impending financial crash to come—if there is not soon a return to fiscal sanity—will be the single most person responsible.
One mathematician gave us a more practical way to evaluate our outstanding debt. One trillion one-dollar bills stacked atop each other (not end to end but flat) would reach nearly 68,000 miles into space—a third of the way to the moon. If so, the debt incurred under President Obama to date alone, would take us to the moon (3 trillion), and back (6 trillion), and two thirds of the way to the moon again (8 trillion), for a total of 8 trillion. (See CNN News Cast, Feb. 4, 2009
But fiscal insanity is not limited to Democrats alone. Congress raised the debt ceiling 18 times under Ronald Reagan, eight under Bill Clinton, seven under George W. Bush and nine, counting the present raise, under Barack Obama. The ceiling has never been reduced. Congressional and presidential fiscal irresponsibility cannot be over stated. Our leaders are taking us into a sink whole from which we may never recover and condemning our children to fiscal slavery. There is no issue in the 2016 Presidential election that is more important than fiscal responsibility and the leadership of both parties has just taken it off the table.
The bill diffusing the debt ceiling issue from remaining a political issue through March 2017, was first passed in the House of Representatives mostly by Democrats (none voting against) in a 266-167 vote. Republicans, in control of this body, were divided, 79 voting with the Democrats, including Republican Party leaders, and 168 against. Opposition to the Speaker Boehner “sell out” contributed to his subsequent resignation both as Speaker and a member of Congress. Congressman Jim Jordan probably represented the feeling of the vast majority of Republicans opposing the bill. “Another last-minute, back-room spending deal by the White House and Congressional leaders that busts the budget caps and allows unlimited debt for the next 18 months. No wonder so many Americans distrust Congress.” Congressman Tom McClintock was more direct. The deal he says adds “nearly $650 for every household in America that will be added to your current and future tax bills.”
The vote in the Republican controlled Senate was 64-35 in favor of the bill with all Democrats voting for with 18 Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, voting with them. The 35 no votes came from Republicans. Senate presidential candidates standing in fierce opposition were Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The final vote for passage occurred in the early morning hours about 3:00 a. m., thus the bill is dubbed by opponents as the “Midnight Debt Bill.”
The politicians have won the eleventh hour big spending victory “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,” but millennials and their children will one day view this as a dark day in U.S. History. What it shows more clearly than ever is that Congress (both Houses and both political parties) is incapable with present leadership of curbing their addiction to spending. An impending fiscal collapse is more likely than ever.