On Tuesday, December 14 – four days after Congress was originally scheduled to adjourn for the year – the Senate passed a $2.5 trillion debt ceiling increase … without a single Republican vote. Hours later, just before 12:30 Wednesday morning, the House passed the resolution as well – only one Republican sided with the Democrats. Now it goes before President Joe Biden, who will almost certainly sign it into law, bestowing upon the nation another $7,500 of debt to every man, woman, and child in the United States – or, more significantly, about $14,000 for everyone who filed a tax return in 2020.
But this result was a foregone conclusion. The real vote to increase the debt ceiling happened last week when 14 Senate Republicans voted to break the filibuster and then again when ten of them voted with the Democrats to allow the rule change required to allow this resolution to exist. Republicans can point to the Tuesday votes and say they stood as one against the debt limit increase, but it should be remembered that they had the power to temper the spending spree and took the path of least resistance instead.
Senate Resolution 33 was introduced in the upper chamber, passed, sent to the House, and then passed there so quickly that no text, summary, latest action, or even sponsor has yet been listed on Congress.gov. In the Senate, it won every Democrat and no Republicans in a 50-49 vote. In the House, it was 221 to 209, a party-line vote, with the exception of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
Just Getting By?
The $2.5 trillion increase is expected to “get us through” to 2023. But let’s take a look at the terrifying truth behind this mentality. Congress plans to simply borrow without end until this new limit is reached in 2023 – or much sooner if the Senate gives Biden his Build Back Better Act. Like every continuing resolution and debt ceiling hike thus far, there is no exit strategy, no plan to balance the budget and start spending only what the government takes in – never mind less for just long enough to knock down some debt. The answer is to simply continue spending until the money is all gone, then borrow more. It’s a never-ending statist shopping spree, where politicians make it rain and Americans drown in the debt.
According to the U.S. National Debt Clock, there’s already over $87,000 for every American citizen and nearly $230,000 for every taxpayer. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income in 2020 was $67,521 – a 2.9% drop from 2019. Even taxed at 100%, it would take about three-and-a-half years of full-time work with zero take-home pay to clear the national debt portion for just one taxpayer in that hypothetical household, whether the $67,521 comes from a single wage earner or a working couple.
Perhaps worse even than the stark reality of right now, we must look to the future and tremble at the thought of what this brings down the road.
A Dark Winter, Indeed
Without even considering the myriad progressive measures that could be passed after a “one-time” Senate rule change is buried in some completely unrelated tome now that the precedent is set, just think about what this could mean for debt in the years ahead. If the annual debt limit hikes start at $2.5 trillion moving forward, how long until there’s more debt per person than the average person makes in a lifetime?
The interest payment alone on the national debt right now is nearly $420 billion – which is almost twice what it was in 2016. Will it double again in another five years – quadruple in ten? What happens when the annual interest due on the national debt is more than the nation manages to collect in tax revenue? It may not be too many more years before we find out – and right now, it’s the Republicans, not the Democrats, Americans have to thank for accelerating the process.
~ Read more from James Fite.
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