I have not paid much attention to the rancorous debt ceiling debate. That’s not because I don’t care about federal spending. There are few aspects of government policy that don’t interest me at least somewhat, and, as a relatively young man, I’m constantly horrified by our government’s spendthrift ways because it’s my future income they are auctioning off in advance. It’s also not because I think the negative consequences of a default have been vastly oversold–though I do.
No, it’s because I can’t imagine that a government so hellbent on spending money would voluntarily limit itself with the much higher interest rates that would inevitably follow default. The Republicans would like fiscal hawks to believe that they are willing to accept such stringent limits, but their governing record would indicate the opposite. The GOP is far too wedded to perpetual war and middle-class entitlements such as Medicare to sincerely desire substantial spending cuts.
Neither party has given the slightest indication that they are serious about cutting spending, so it’s incomprehensible to me that this debate could be anything but a ruse by Republicans in Congress. Whatever deal emerges in the eleventh hour–and one will–the Republicans can fake reluctance in public and rejoice in private that the gravy trains to their districts will make all scheduled stops right on time.
Even if I’m wrong, and Congress does not vote to raise the debt ceiling by the August 2nd deadline, I don’t believe for a second that would stop the government from spending us into oblivion. Members of the government long ago dispensed with the need for Constitutional authorization for their activities, so why would mere statute stop them now? Politics is the art of the possible, and a few words in the legal code simply cannot stop the momentum of the $3.8 trillion behemoth known as the United States federal government.