At the current rate of federal spending, the national debt will crash through its legal $16.4 trillion limit by January 2013. When that happens, both sides of the aisle will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the hysterical debt ceiling showdown in the summer of 2011. The Democrats have not managed to pass a budget in years and do not have plans to reduce our mounting debt. Republicans generally wind up trying to weasel out of whatever spending cuts they agreed to before the ink on the deal has dried.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has argued that when the time comes to raise the debt limit, members of Congress should avoid another debate about offsetting the inevitable hike with cuts in spending because of the “drama and the pain and the damage that they caused the country” last time around. Geithner would rather have the power to raise the debt ceiling when cash is needed, with no strings attached.
While the Treasury secretary is correct that any call to cut spending will cue much drama, he is wrong that we should avoid it. In fact, precisely what this country needs right now is another epic fight over the national debt. Only this time, when the smoke clears, we need to see actual spending cuts that kick in today, not fake promises of fiscal responsibility tomorrow.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Veronique de Rugy.