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Topic of the day: The debt-ceiling debate

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 2:45 p.m. MDT

House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged that failing to lift the so-called debt ceiling would have bad consequences. But he also said that "allowing our spending problem to go unresolved" would be just as troublesome.

Associated Press

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It’s that time of year again; the debt-ceiling is up for discussion. Originally we were set to hit the ceiling in early May, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew managed to delay the "X date" until mid-October.

USA Today’s “Opposing View” debate today is a likely indicator of the rhetoric both sides will be assuming in the coming month, with House Speaker John Boehner representing the GOP and the USA Today editorial board taking the opposing stance.

“The American people know that our deficits and debt are hurting our economy and costing jobs. They want their elected leaders to take meaningful action to reduce spending,” Boehner said.

“This issue isn't just about dollars and cents. Unless we deal with this spending problem honestly and forthrightly, our kids and grandkids are going to face a much dimmer future. And we simply won't have prosperity — today, or in the future — unless we address the massive deficits and debt that are hurting our economy and jeopardizing the American dream.”

Calling for a resolution to the debt-ceiling crisis, and not just trumpeting it for political gain before settling for a last-minute deal, was USA Today. “As was the case during the last debt-ceiling debacle, in 2011, playing politics with the nation's creditworthiness is irresponsible and unnecessary.”

Boehner — and the leaders on both sides of the aisle — are trying to navigate the party rhetoric, but in the end might do more harm than good, USA Today believes. “(Boehner) lived through the 1995-96 government shutdown, which was blamed on the GOP, and wants no repeat. So he's wisely trying to stave off a shutdown when funding runs out at the end of this month by proposing a short-term spending bill to keep the lights on. … But trading a government shutdown for the risk of defaulting on the national debt is a dangerous game. Even the hint that the United States couldn't meet its obligations rattles the financial markets and threatens the nation's credit rating. That would drive up interest rates, drive down stock markets and weaken the economic recovery.”

In the end, it’s likely to be more of the same from both sides, with lots of heated rhetoric but little actual work until the night the debt ceiling is hit. As USA Today puts it, “Boehner is right about one thing: Making deals like those isn't easy. It takes leadership, compromise and the nerve to stand up to extremists in both parties. All are in short supply.”

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and a writer for the Deseretnews.com Opinion section. Email him at fstevenson@deseretdigital.com

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