U.S. House approves legislation to give government blank check on debt ceiling

Proposal does not require a balanced budget or the reduction in government spending.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 24, 2013

The House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress approved the bill exalted by the Republicans that will extend the debt ceiling and the debate about it until 19 May.

The motion, passed with 285 votes in favor – 86 democrats – and 144 against – 33 Republicans – will allow the Treasury to borrow money but states that both houses of Congress must pass a budget (the Senate did that during the first year of Barack Obama’s first term) or else their salaries will be withheld.

The Congress should meet before the end of February to agree to increase the limit on how much money the country can borrow so that the government can pay its bills and debts.

The time that Congress has given itself will allow lawmakers now devote their time and energy to battle about the size of the U.S. budget. John Boehner, chairman of the House, ‘convinced’ his fellow conservatives that his new strategy is an opportunity to achieve significant cuts in some state programs, such as Medicare, health care those related to the elderly.

Republicans and Democrats are focused on cutting funds from indispensable social programs, which in most cases are the only safety net for millions of Americans. Despite continues calls for the reduction in military spending, both parties have refused to cut expenses in that area, but do not hesitate to cut important programs such as health and medical care for Americans.

Democrats showed opposition to the Republican proposal, with Nancy Pelosi describing it as a “joke” and Steny Hoyer saying it was just a “political stunt” that would only perpetuate “uncertainty”. A small group of Democrats supported it because it avoids, at least for now, the threat of bankruptcy and divorces the issue from the debt ceiling which Republicans claim needs to be linked to a cut in expenses. The same law will have no trouble in the Senate, where its leader, Democrat Harry Reid, has already advanced that he will give the green light.

The White House also welcomed the measure approved Wednesday. In his daily briefing, the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, said Tuesday that if it came to the Oval Office, Obama would not veto the law. The current debt ceiling is at $16.4 trillion and the Republican proposal does not specify another amount, which will allow the government to make permitted to make automatic increases to avoid bankruptcy. This means the U.S. will be able to officially spend its way into oblivion without any Congressional supervision.

The bill allows the government to borrow the money it needs to meet its obligations, including interest payments. However, this is not a blank check to the Treasury, sponsors say, which may not borrow extra funds during the period of suspension to meet the deficit of a trillion dollars in 2013. In practice, however, it does look like a blank check for the Treasury and the U.S. government to borrow indiscriminately up until 19 May. In one sense, Republicans, Democrats and the White House continue to kick the can down the road as no real solution is given to the debt and spending problems.

The House of Republicans have reiterated over the last two years that would not increase the debt ceiling unless this increase was accompanied by the same amount of spending costs. However, the law passed yesterday does not state that have the supposed balancing of the budget must occur.

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