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Historically, passing our 'Debt Ceiling' increases used to be per-forma events, routine responsibilities of public servants, and well just plain expected.

As former president Bill Clinton put it today on ThisWeek:

[...] America is one of -- maybe the only country in the world that requires two votes to spend money.

First, they vote to spend the money.  Then they got to vote again to issue the bonds to, in effect, barrow the money from the American people to cover the spending they’ve already voted for.  You can’t negotiate over that.  And I think he’s right not to.

Despite the commonsense notion that a Nation must pay its bills, some aspiring politicians see these check-paying obligations times, as opportunities for themselves to get what they want -- to demand otherwise unpopular budget-slashing concessions -- that are usually so outrageous they are unable to achieve them through any other legislative way (ie proposed bills, majority votes, and presidential signatures, etc.)

The Partisan History of the Debt Ceiling [with Charts]

by John Light, Moyers & Company, -- Updated Sep 23, 2013

Since 1944, America’s debt ceiling has been increased 94 times. Up until the mid-90s, it was a pretty routine part of congressional business. But in the fall of 1995, Republican House leaders Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and John Boehner announced that within seven years they wanted $245 billion in tax cuts, entitlement reform and a balanced budget. President Clinton refused to give in and Americans dealt with the most serious government shutdown in U.S. history. In early 1996, when Moody’s announced they were considering downgrading America’s debt rating, the Republicans finally folded.

“The most crucial difference between Clinton’s debt limit battle and the current crisis is that, in 1996, the Republicans were bluffing. No Republican seriously considered defaulting on the debt to be a viable option,” Kara Brandeisky wrote in The New Republic.

Of course in 1996, The Republican Party didn't have the Tea Party zealots to contend with and/or placate.

Since when, has "paying your bills on time" been a negotiable concept?  I'm sure VISA and MasterCard would love that idea, if the American People routinely decided to tear up their bills, as the Republican are want to do ... on an evermore frequent basis.

Take a few moments, to dial the "wayback machine" to the last time these conservative check-writing die-hards were willing to take the country to the brink -- bluffing or no, they did find themselves in an untenable bargaining-position in short order. It seems most of the American people understand the need for Government, and the need to pay for it. It's the Republicans who seem to be constantly confused by the topic.

How Clinton Handled His Debt Ceiling Crisis Better Than Obama

by Kara Brandeisky, -- Aug 2, 2011

Republicans appeared to dig in their heels in early November [of 1995], when the House passed a bill increasing the debt limit -- but only through the next month -- as well as a continuing resolution that included higher Medicare premiums and other spending cuts. Instead of attempting to negotiate over the cuts, Clinton simply vetoed both bills. “America has never liked pressure tactics, and I would be wrong to permit these kind of pressure tactics to dramatically change the course of American life,” Clinton said. “I cannot do it, and I will not do it.” The government shut down.

Although the budget standoff was resolved in early January, the debt limit issue remained. House majority leader Dick Armey went on “Meet the Press” to again demand spending cuts in return for a debt limit increase. In response, Rubin sent a sharp letter to Speaker Newt Gingrich, in which he warned that Congress only had until March 1 until the Treasury defaulted on its obligations. Reacting to the news, Moody’s rating agency announced that it was considering downgrading the rating on U.S. Treasury bonds. Republicans quickly folded, offering to raise the debt ceiling in return for some more modest provisions.

On March 28, 1996, Congress sent Clinton a bill raising the debt ceiling and enacting two popular Contract with America initiatives -- easing the regulatory burden on small businesses and slightly altering the tax structure for Social Security recipients. Clinton signed the bill two days later, and with that, the debt limit fight was over.

Back in Ninties the hostage-takers got the blame; and the hostage-negotiators got all the good-governing credit.

Bill Clinton recalled that troubling time today, and described it -- those two minor concessions -- he gave the the Republican Obstructors, as talking them back in off their ledge ... as a way of letting them "save face."

Full Transcript: Former President Bill Clinton Speaks to George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’

by ABC News, Sep 29, 2013


But as you know, one of the things the Republicans say is that you did that.  You did negotiate over the debt limit back in 1996.  They do control the house.  So doesn’t the president have to negotiate?  And they’re banking on it.


Well, but the negotiations we had were extremely minor and keep in mind.  There was two different things.  Number one is the economy was growing and the deficit was going down.  Before we ever signed the balanced budget amendment, 90% of the deficit was gone, because of economic growth and what the Congress voted for in our economic plan in ’93.  So it was -- we didn’t give away the store and they didn’t ask us to give away the store.

What they -- it was more like we got out here on this ledge.  Please give us some face-saving way to walk back.  And we didn’t stop negotiating when we passed the balanced budget bill, for example, I’ll tell you -- give you an example, ’cause I’m often criticized for it.  The balanced budget bill, which led us to four surpluses was a negotiating process. [...]

Here's to hoping that face-saving for the Hostage-takers, is not in the negotiating winds, for this latest round of bad bill-paying behavior.

That only encourages more of the same; only enables these irresponsible public servants to sabotage and eventually wreck the institutions of governing. Offering them concessions perennially risks stellar credit ratings of the US Economy. Bond investors need stability and much longer timelines than Debt Ceiling 'negotiations' typically provide, in order for them to 'invest in' America's long-run viability.

All because some astro-turfed members of Congress, really don't understand history; nor how to read the will of people ... as expressed in our democratically-conducted elections.

This time, Dems should make the Republicans own their Extremism -- because that is the only way, they will ultimately and permanently be brought back from their semi-annual brink -- dragging us responsible voters, out on the Ledge with them, time and time again.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The diarist is right. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We so quickly forget that the US got downrated in 2011 when only the threat occurred and has still not recovered fully from that.  And the downraters in fact named the Republicans as the responsible party on that occasion, and can be presumed to do so again on this one.

    This time around the doers see that as a plus, adding to the power of the blackmail, and indeed love the idea of people being punished by having their obligations negated after giving value to the gummint for them, for the folly in the eyes of Teabaggers of giving gummint money in the first place. At this point at least, they are proud to take credit for the damage the threat does and the damage the shutdown and the debt repudiation will do. At least they think so now when the time to act or not is here.

    These guys and Ms. Blackburn and a few othe women, unlike Newtie and his, and whatever was on the minds of Congress in Reagan's day,  affirmatively want government damaged generally this time around, since that's half way to eliminating it entirely as a principal goal of theirs They have done their best from food stamps to a lot of things to make it clear that such damage will start with people they don't consider like themselves but something contemptible and inferior, but attacking the debt ceiling screws their buddies on Wall Street, whose friendship and cash itself becomes disposable when balanced against the goal of eliminating government entirely. And they are already rubbing their hands and gloating while boozed up with the ugly demand list they have in mind for the debt ceiling fight.

    And they forget that in Newtie's day what was at issue then was stuff which had been rationally discussed and related to money, not giving insurance companies and employers control over women's specifically female medical care, the building of a pipeline, threatened for next week, and entitlements which are separately funded and save when borrowed by Republicans who don't pay bills for the stuff they enact, do not produce debt at all.

  •  We are in a pickle, our system is so dysfunctional (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that we have painted ourselves into a corner.  We can't get rid of these clowns because in the primaries the crazies rule the day.  Gerrymandering prevents us from fixing this.  

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