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Protect America's Interests

Editorial for July 14, 2011

America’s so-called debt crisis is a manufactured crisis, courtesy of Republican politicians in Congress who have demonstrated they care more about protecting their moneyed special interests than the interests of the country they’ve sworn to protect and defend. Tuesday morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner, the ranking Republican in Washington D.C., told reporters assembled for a GOP news conference on Capitol Hill that extending the debt limit was President Obama’s problem, not the Congress’. "We passed our budget back in the spring, outlined our priorities. When's he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt-limit increase is his problem, and I think it's time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that the Congress can pass." The truth is, the Democrats have put their plan on the table, a deficit-reduction plan modeled after one that Republicans in Congress drafted. But when the President embraced that plan, which called for 83 percent spending cuts and 17 percent new revenue, the GOP leaders walked away from the debt talks and headed straight for the microphones over which they could announce their undying support for no tax increases and place the blame for all of America’s ills on the President. Never mind that these are the same Republicans who, in a show of amazing political orthodoxy, embraced the budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. What the GOP doesn’t like to say about its plan, however, is that it assumes adding $6 trillion to the national debt during its implementation phase. In other words, the Republicans don’t give a hoot about debt and deficit reduction. If they did, they would not have endorsed the Ryan budget plan as their blueprint for fixing what ails America. Instead, they would have entered into negotiations with Democrats in good faith to devise a formulation of spending cuts and new revenues to ensure the government does not shut down and that the nation will not go into default for the first time in its 235-year history. The deadline for reaching a deal on raising the debt ceiling is Aug. 2. Since 1961, the Congress has raised the nation’s debt ceiling 74 times. Most recently it lifted the lid seven times for President George W. Bush, whose budget director, now-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels,, in 2002 described the business of raising the debt limit as “a housekeeping matter.” As it should be. And if the Congress won’t act to protect the nation’s interests, the President should by upholding the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. SB

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