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Blame Both Parties if the Federal Government Shuts Down in December

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23.09.2021

Debt

Veronique de Rugy | 9.23.2021 1:05 PM

The battle over the federal debt ceiling that's currently being fought by government officials and legislators is yet another example of the political posturing that's so prevalent these days. On one side, you have Democrats, who believe that the debt ceiling should be increased automatically or removed altogether, no matter what level of debt Uncle Sam accumulates, and that it should be done with the support of Republicans. On the other side, you have Republicans, who occasionally remember that they are against big government spending, especially if they're in the minority when the debt ceiling needs to be raised.

Consider Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) railing against Republicans for saying they won't vote for a bill that funds the government until December and includes a debt ceiling suspension. He accuses them of wanting the federal government to shut down and to default on its debt.

Don't fall for it. Yes, defaults are bad—which is why nobody wants that.

Thankfully, there's a difference between refusing to raise the debt ceiling and defaulting on our debt. What's more, as Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute reminds us, Democrats currently hold the White House, the House, and the Senate, and they could have raised the debt ceiling all alone without the Republicans. All they had to do, he writes, was to "include debt limit instructions in either of the two budget resolutions that they passed this year," allowing them to increase "Washington's borrowing authority to the reconciliation bills—which are not subject to filibuster and thus can pass the Senate with only the 50 Democratic votes."

Yet they probably didn't do that so their members wouldn't have to cast a vote acknowledging all of the spending and borrowing they approved. But now they're dragging Republicans into their mess, hoping to either get political cover for raising the debt ceiling or let the GOP get the blame for a government shutdown.

Incidentally, Republicans aren't wrong to be outraged by the $3.5 trillion spending bill Democrats are pushing through reconciliation, most of it unpaid for by those who will receive the benefits, piled on top of trillions of dollars for COVID-19-relief spending and an already vast deficit. Republicans argue that blocking this level of spending is another reason to........

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