— Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 8)
The recent dysfunctional debate and ultimately terrible compromise over the federal debt ceiling has left the nation disillusioned and despairing about the future. To make matters worse, while only beginning to absorb this massive body blow to our economy and social safety net, Standard and Poors (S&P) made the outrageous and unprecedented decision to downgrade the nation’s credit rating, though we had succeeded in raising the debt ceiling on time. This from S&P, which has no credible standing to downgrade anything and was itself complicit in creating the current meltdown by enthusiastically bestowing high ratings on risky mortgage-backed securities.
S&P’s analysis is deeply flawed and only provides further fodder to the Republicans’ stated commitment to take our economy to the brink with each increase to the debt ceiling.
But the debt ceiling is truly arbitrary and has nothing to do with the deficit. The debt ceiling does not prevent the United States from incurring new debts. That occurs when Congress decides to authorize more spending than revenues. The debt ceiling prevents the President from borrowing money to pay those debts when they come due. While this has never been a problem in the past, the dangerous game of chicken Republican radicals played with the full faith and credit of the United States demonstrates that we can no longer risk allowing this artifact of World War I to threaten our nation’s creditworthiness.
So, I will soon introduce legislation to take this arbitrary issue off the table altogether. Let us abolish the debt ceiling, which has become a serious threat to our economic future and a pawn for Republicans intent on holding the economy hostage to impose their own extreme agenda. Then we must move forward with bold measures to create jobs and economic development, provide aid to states, build infrastructure, instill aggregate demand back into the economy, and get money flowing once again.
If we are to prevent years of unemployment and the attrition of America’s great middle class, we must act now. We must eliminate the debt ceiling; we must create jobs and opportunity; and, we must move past this misguided and dangerous obsession with balancing the budget on the backs of the middle and working classes.