Fortunately, the New York Times did a diagram, here, of what it all means. If you have been confused–and not just my overseas readers may be by this–the chart explains that the debt ceiling will go up if Congress either passes a balanced budget amendment, or if it agrees to certain deficit reduction ideas that are going to come out of a committee of twelve. In another instance, the debt ceiling can rise some more if the President so decides. They act like the President is the one deciding to spend all the money. In fact, in our system, the Congress decides what should be spent, and then the President spends it. He only spends what’s authorized. He only borrows what’s authorized.
So, in the end, the problem is our Congress, and particularly the Republicans in Congress who pretend that they don’t spend. Most of the Northeast’s tax money is sucked out of the region to pay for federal spending in Republican states of the South and Far West. I would love to see an “automatic trigger” that cuts every South Carolina social security check, or Texas military base, if Congress doesn’t approve certain other tax policy or legislation. They’d never stand for that. But yet they don’t have any problem lecturing to the rest of us about the need to control government spending.
I think Obama did a shitty deal, and the Democrats to his left have every right to be pissed off at him. Particularly, people in places and states that pay a lot of federal taxes have every right to be pissed, too. They want the federal benefits AND they have paid the federal taxes. Many New Jersey families pay $10,000 a year in federal taxes. That’s like 10 Oklahoma families, if even. Maybe 20. Yet the Senator from Oklahoma, Inhofe, is the one lecturing the rest of us about the need for balanced budgets. Please!
[Update: Who really gets hit by the 2011 Budget Control Act? Graduate students who would have been eligible for a subsidized-interest student loan! Yes. Toward the bottom of the bill are amendments to the Higher Education Act to knock out the interest subsidy for graduate studies. Oooo, big money there!]