Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is supporting a new effort led by Congressional Democrats that would increase the Federal debt limit by an additional $1.1 trillion, while pushing the expiration of the new debt limit to December 2014. Midterm elections will be held on Nov. 4, 2014.
Reid’s tactic, if successful, would delay another Congressional fight over the Federal debt limit until after the 2014 midterms, kicking down the road one of the most divisive and, obviously, revealing debates that distinguishes Representatives and Senators for their stances on fiscal policy.
In keeping with Reid’s sine qua non rejection of other attempted spending measures sent over from the House, his new proposal would demand a so-called “clean” resolution that would not address spending reform as it resets the debt ceiling just south of $18 trillion. The debt limit stood at $11.3 trillion when Barack Obama was first sworn in, which means the two-term President is on track to nearly double the Federal debt limit during his eight year in office, just as the debt limit had doubled during George W. Bush’s two Presidential terms.
The Hill, which first reported the Reid proposal Tuesday, observed:
In 2011, President Obama insisted the debt limit be pushed until after the 2012 election so that he would not have to deal with it again before Election Day.
Now it is Senate Democrats who don’t want to face double jeopardy before voters decide whether they get to keep their majority.
Only it’s not double jeopardy. Those who aspire to public service accept the responsibilities that come with the public’s vote of confidence even before they’re elected to office.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized the absence of any semblance of spending reform in Reid’s proposal, saying Reid wants to “raise the debt limit by $1 trillion but not do anything about the debt.”
But fellow Republican Lindsey Graham is among a group of Senate RINOs that have indicated they would be open to supporting short-term debt ceiling extensions, even if those proposals are “clean” of any provisions that would rein in future Federal spending.
Breitbart’s Mike Flynn pointed out a revealing truth that subverts Democrats’ “blame the GOP” mantra during the current funding stalemate:
Reid’s move runs against the conventional wisdom that debt ceiling fights are damaging for Republicans. The media and pundits have been saying that the GOP is on a “suicide mission” for wanting negotiations over a debt ceiling hike. The GOP brand was supposedly badly damaged as a result of the last debt ceiling debate, in 2011.
If that’s true, wouldn’t Reid want to have the debt debate just before the midterm elections? If the debate is so damaging for Republicans, it seems Reid and Senate Democrats would be eager to have the debate in the weeks ahead of voters going to the polls.
The truth is, the public sees the debate over the debt ceiling as a consequence of out-of-control spending in Washington. A strong majority of Americans, 61%, think significant spending cuts have to be part of any package to increase the debt.
That is a debate Reid doesn’t want to have in an election year. The GOP should embrace that debate.
He’s almost right on that last point. But an election-year debate over Federal spending could be the kind of public discussion that brings into focus, for voters, exactly where incumbents from both parties stand on government profligacy. And there are plenty of GOP incumbents who, like their Democratic colleagues, would fear a debate like that — unless it occurs after they’ve won the midterms.