Comments about ‘Letter: Debt limit’

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Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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wrz
Phoenix, AZ

"Let's say the debt limit is breached and the Treasury Department does prioritize payments. Treasury is an executive branch agency, which means that you are effectively giving President Obama the authority to decide who to pay and who to stiff."

Not necessarily. Depends on how closely the Congress wishes to manage the government's expenditures. Remember, the House is responsible for all funding bills... not the president. Congress provides the funding and the president uses the funding to run government operations.

"Is that your end goal?"

The goal of the Congress is, or should be, to work toward reducing the annual deficit and national debt to keep the government from eventually collapsing. Right now the country is on the track to ruination. It might even be too late now.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

wrz,

Congress could only force the priorities if both the House and Senate agree and the President signs the bill into law. Otherwise, it would default to the Treasury.

Eli Tesecular PhD
Salt Lake City, UT

As usual, I completely agree with Mr. Kayser. We have no choice but to continue spending and raising debt limits; it's the law. In addition, by definition, how could we possibly cut "entitlements"? It wouldn't be right to defy the definition of the word "entitlement". Lastly, I wish to thank our children and grandchildren for understanding that we had no choice in making the spending decisions that we are making today, as we approach $17 trillion in debt. Sorry kids. We were simply obeying the law (and the dictionary).

ECR
Burke, VA

wrz wrote - "The goal of Congress is, or should be, to work toward reducing the annual deficit..."

John Makin, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, reviewed the Congressional Budget Office’s projections for deficit spending and argues that "American fiscal austerity has been moderate and probably . . . has proceeded far enough for now." The budget deficit was more than 10 percent of GDP in 2009 but is on track to be about half that this year.

"The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly," writes Jan Hatzius, the chief economist of Goldman Sachs, in an April 10 report. Goldman estimates that in the first three months of 2013 the deficit was running at 4.5 percent of GDP, and they forecast a deficit of 3 percent of GDP or less in the 2015 fiscal year.

So you see even under the current climate in Washington, those goals are actually coming about. Those forecasts of falling deficits would of course change if there were a recession or an abrupt change in policy. Or perhaps if the US defaulted on their debts and failed to raise the debt limit.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@wrz – “The goal of the Congress is, or should be, to work toward reducing the annual deficit and national debt to keep the government from eventually collapsing.”

Completely agree!

I just think we should be clear that this is not the goal of many in Congress today. For many, the goal is to shrink government down (small enough to drown it in a bathtub) and creating crisis’ (including, it looks like, collapse) is actually an expedient means to achieve this end.

These folks could care less about the deficit otherwise why would they have changed course in 2001 after years of surpluses (cut taxes and massively increase government spending all charged to the credit card?

Anyone who thinks this mess is not a long term strategy (because they couldn’t convince voters of their ideology) meant to destroy what most people think are largely (always exceptions) reasonable government policies that the People have enacted over many decades is kidding themselves.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

This presumption that Republicans WANT the US to default is preposterous.

Republicans do NOT want the United States to default. Nobody wants the US to default. We just have different ways of avoiding it. One wants to spend less (Conservatives). The other just wants to continue spending and just borrow more (Liberals).

There's no doubt they're going to approve the request to borrow more. To avoid that the budget reduction talks would have needed to start months ago. I think that's going to pass without a problem. But the discussions on the budget need to happen eventually (or the US is going to default no matter how many debt limit increases they pass). Eventually people are going to lose faith and stop buying our debt. Then it doesn't matter what our limit is.

We are approaching the point where even if we applied 100% of our GDP to the debt... we couldn't reduce it. That's a bad tipping point. Then your only options are sever government osterity (which will result in civil unrest) or crippling taxes even for the middle class (which will bring financial difficulty many Americans have never experienced).

wrz
Phoenix, AZ

@Twin Lights:
"Congress could only force the priorities if both the House and Senate agree and the President signs the bill into law. Otherwise, it would default to the Treasury."

And, who does the Treasury Secretary work for, Huh? The Preso. So, Obama will decide where the cuts will be... not the House where government funding decisions should be made. In fact, he already has. Close national parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc.) and memorials... where damage will be most noticeable by the public. Can you imagine arresting and jailing a vet because he crossed a 'WWII Memorial closed' barrier? That displays the mentality of our illustrious leader.

@ECR:
"Goldman estimates that in the first three months of 2013 the deficit was running at 4.5 percent of GDP..."

It now stands at a estimated annualized 5.01 percent. Any future percentages are a pure guess... depending on that we do in the mid east. If we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan we'd be in fairly good shape. But we won't. We're fighting terrorists who have vowed to destroy the 'Great Satan' which will go on for decades and more.

wrz
Phoenix, AZ

@Tyler D:
"I just think we should be clear that this is not the goal of many in Congress today."

I think you'll find they're called 'Democrats.' Harry Reid and his ilk.

"For many, the goal is to shrink government down (small enough to drown it in a bathtub) and creating crisis’ (including, it looks like, collapse) is actually an expedient means to achieve this end."

Right now you couldn't drown it (government) in the ocean.

"These folks could care less about the deficit otherwise why would they have changed course in 2001 after years of surpluses..."

Deficits since 2001 are from wars on terrorism (Bush) and the real-estate bubble bust (Frank/Dodd). Keep that in mind.

"Anyone who thinks this mess is not a long term strategy..."

It's not long term strategies. It's simply politicians trying to stay in office by handing out government largess. Obama is a master at this with his Obama-phones, amnesty for illegals, etc..

2 bit
Cottonwood Heights, UT

wrz,
Nobody wants to "drown the Government". Not in a bathtub, and not in an ocean. Nobody's out to drown your precious government. We just have different opinions on the ROLE of Government.... that's all.

I prefer the traditional "Role of Government" we have had in the US since it's inception
- Capitalism
- States with their own constitutions, legislatures, courts, Governors, etc.
- Small limited Federal Government focused on National Defense, foreign affairs, inter-state issues (not a government focused on taxing the heck out of a small percentage of the citizens and redistributing the wealth)
- No... I don't need to be able to drown it in a bathtub, but I need to be able to manage it. Humanity and History has proven that government is no better than it's citizens, and that when people give up and expect the government to make their decisions... the government can get so big and beyond control that the Citizens can't control it, and if the wrong people get control (which CAN happen)... the majority can just roll over the people they don't like (it happens more times than I can count in human history).

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

wrz,

Yes, Treasury is a dept. of the Executive Branch so obviously it will ultimately be the choice of the President. There is no other constitutional method.

As to choices made, let's be realistic. If Obama opened every National Park and signed all the little bills to fund this or that "priority", then where would his leverage be when negotiating with the House?

Part of the problem is that we have already made the shutdown too painless. If govt. is closed, then it should be closed - no Soc. Sec., no Veterans stuff, nothing except the active military until Washington gets its act together. The howling this would create would ensure fast action.

To your point to Tyler D on the deficits since 2001 being from the war on terrorism partly. But that is because these were combined with tax cuts.

There is no doubt Obama and Reid share some blame here but the Tea Partiers promised a shutdown and have now delivered. And yes this is a strategy - show that govt. doesn't work by making sure it does not.

Mkithpen
Sandy, UT

People keep in mind that the house has proposed bills to keep the government running. Senator Reid and his band of thieves (Including McCain and Hatch) have held the country hostage vs sitting down and negotiating a way through the current debt mess before working on the Obamananable Care Act. We should all get a one year extension to determine our next best step just like the President supporters including the unions of which Hoffa and his team want out. If that was agreed to the debt limit would be signed before we all go to sleep tonight.

wrz
Phoenix, AZ

@Twin Lights:
"Yes, Treasury is a dept. of the Executive Branch... There is no other constitutional method."

Not so. The Constitutional method is: The House decides federal funding and the president accepts it. The Constitution is negated when politics enter the scene. Negates the separation of powers concept envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

"As to choices made, let's be realistic. If Obama opened every National Park and signed all the little bills to fund this or that 'priority,' then where would his leverage be when negotiating with the House?"

His leverage is with the people... same as with the House. Unfortunately for the (Republican) House, the president has the liberal media on his team which seems un-American.

"If govt. is closed, then it should be closed - no Soc. Sec..."

Soc. sec. is not part of the government, technically. I paid into it and expect to get my money back, regardless of shutdowns.

Actually, it is reported that the government is 82 percent funded, up, and running. That should be enough government. Using the 18 percent savings to reduce the national debt would be a win-win.

10CC
Bountiful, UT

2 bit:

Relative to your point that our politicians in DC need to sit down and truly understand each other and compromise, Democrats are more likely to view healthcare as a "right", explaining the hesitancy to negotiate on this point.

If Republicans can sit down and negotiate an important item to them, the lack of gun control, I suspect Democrats would be open to tempering Obamacare.

The different groups can't get everything they want, but that is certainly how engagement is happening, a scortched Earth strategy where compromise is not possible.

Do you agree!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

wrz,

We have gone over this before. The Constitution says:

"All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills. Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it."

The house is the starting point only. They have to negotiate with the Senate and President. In the absence of a law outlining what would get paid first, it falls to the Executive Branch.

Politics is a pain, but the constitution is never negated. The Republicans have Fox, Limbaugh, and other talking heads on their side (if they are sufficiently "pure" in their conservatism).

Soc. Sec. is a govt. program run by the federal govt. (instituted by that evil liberal Franklin Roosevelt).

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

10cc,

Re: "If Republicans can sit down and negotiate an important item to them, the lack of gun control, I suspect Democrats would be open to tempering Obamacare"...

But Republicans DID sit down and negotiate new gun control laws, just this past year (in response to the Sandy Hook incident)! So... since Republicans did what you claim they would never do... when can we expect Democrats to be open to tampering with ObamaCare?

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