Jul 18, 2011
President Obama and Congress are making big noise about the government’s debt ceiling – that is, the limit put on the total U.S. government borrowing from private sources. Republicans say they won’t raise the ceiling until spending is reduced, because the debt has become “catastrophic.” Obama says that if Congress doesn’t raise it by August 2, the government will not be able to borrow any more money and Social Security checks won’t go out. Both parties make the situation sound really dire.
In fact, voting to increase the debt ceiling is nothing new. Congress has voted to raise it 73 times since 1940 – including 16 times under Reagan, seven under George W. Bush, and three so far under Obama.
But this time, both parties are trying to use this vote as a bludgeon to ram through huge attacks on the population. The Republicans want across the board cuts on all domestic programs. Obama’s proposal, which he calls a “Grand Bargain” or a “Big Deal,” puts “everything on the table.” He proposes to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and to cut aid to the states – which means even further cuts to social programs, public services and education at the state and local level.
What both parties propose is an attack – like the austerity plans European governments are pushing to attack their populations – even if U.S. politicians try to hide it behind all their blather about a budget crisis.