Congress must pay its bills, lower the national debt

Published 5:00 am Sunday, May 21, 2023

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Contrary to a common misconception, raising the federal debt ceiling does NOT increase government spending. What it does do is allow our country to pay our current bills.  

A separate issue is what the federal government will do going forward. Democrats and Republicans agree that spending needs to be reduced. Unfortunately, House Republicans and a large majority of Senate Republicans are insisting that unless the Democrats and President Biden agree to immediate drastic spending reductions, they will refuse to vote to raise the debt ceiling. By doing so, they are threatening to bring about the first default in the history of our nation. Defaulting on our financial obligations would have catastrophic consequences for our economy and for our standing in the world.  

Default can be avoided by Democrats and Republicans voting to raise the debt ceiling, at least temporarily, and then working together to reach an agreement about how to reduce our national debt.  

There are two ways to do that: decrease spending and increase revenue. President Biden has included both of these elements in his proposed budget. That budget includes specific spending reductions, such as those that would result from Medicare now being able to negotiate with drug companies for reduced medication prices. It also includes tax increases for those who have more than $400,000 a year in income. In addition, because the last congress enabled the Internal Revenue Service to increase its auditing staff, it will now be able to bring in billions of tax dollars from wealthy individuals and corporations who have been illegally avoiding paying the taxes they owe.  

Republicans and Democrats need to work together to raise the debt ceiling, then reduce government spending and increase government revenue. All of these are urgent priorities. 

Larry Feldman