Just in time for Halloween, Capitol Hill decided to scare everyone with the debt ceiling. A ceiling, of course, is meant to be limiting, but this one is nothing of the sort. Not for Republicans. Not for Democrats. Not for so-called independents. Expecting Congress to live within its means went out of style around the time of George Bailey’s savings and loan crisis in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
For my part, I was able to sit the panic out. But for those who rely on the government, don’t let Congress spook you. Last week they passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government open until Dec.3. They did this to fulfill their primary function, which is to buy votes and reward donors. And now that our brave House and Senate “rescued” us from the crisis they created, you’re expected to be suitably grateful.
But even if they defaulted, the sky wouldn’t fall. Congress would simply be prevented from adding yet more debt on top of the trillions they’re charging to your grandchildren. That’s the reason we have a debt ceiling in the first place, to force the government to live within its means, not to provide a recurring plot for recurring political theater.
Politicians love to talk about “pay-go” and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new term, “pay-fors.” They liken their budget to our family ones, in tones so earnestly condescending, you might think they really care about fiscal responsibility. But when’s the last time they said no to a new program, which, as Ronald Reagan said, are “the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth”?
Congress refuses to just say no to spending because they can print money. But why should they have all the fun? If they can run the presses full tilt on Capitol Hill, devaluing our currency Weimar Republic style, why not let every citizen crank out greenbacks on their home computer?
This would neatly solve inflation, which is eating up our money at a rate not seen since Jimmy Carter lost his showdown with the Killer Rabbit. After all, it’s just the faces of Old White Guys that give our currency value, right? It’s not as if it’s anchored in reality.
Oh right. Reality. That stubborn old bird.
If we taught history and economics, citizens would see the danger of spending and demand the government live within its means. But in a nation with almost $1 trillion in credit card debt alone, according to the New York Federal Reserve, paying our bills seems as un-American as that Canadian infamnia, pineapple pizza.
It’s absurd (not to mention illegal) to mint money at home, so it should be just as absurd to let Congress print it at will, reducing the value of every dollar in our wallets, 401(k)s and Social Security checks — a dark cloud looming as the Baby Boomers retire.
We hear a lot about “the adults” being in charge, but part of being an adult is understanding you can spend on this, not that. Prioritize. Take “tree equity.” President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill (actually more like $5 trillion or $5,000 billion) includes $3 billion for whatever that is. American Forests is all for it, declaring trees “critical infrastructure” and “a basic right.”
Well, first of all, rights come from God — another old-fashioned idea, albeit one enshrined in our Constitution. Sure, trees are great. But John Chapman, known as “Johnny Appleseed,” managed to forest whole tracts from Pennsylvania to Illinois and north to Ontario without government funding.
Either the debt ceiling exists, or it doesn’t. Either the president’s budget costs nothing, as he claimed, or it costs more, and we have to raise the ceiling. In any case, hasn’t Congress borrowed enough cash from our geopolitical foes in China and charged too many drunken spending sprees on our bar tab?
What’s really scary about Congress defaulting is they’d make sure that we feel the pain and steer the blame to their political enemies. It’s yet another wonky costume party. But eventually, the bill is going to come due, and the ruling class won’t suffer for those bad choices. It’s like the “Alien vs. Predator” tagline: “Whoever Wins…We Lose.”
We can’t print our way out of this. The Soviet Union, Argentina, and Venezuela tried and Schlitzed their economies. The only smart play is to grow the economy — the same way citizens take on second jobs to boost their bottom lines.
But that would mean making tough choices, and Congress would much rather trick us with annual debt ceiling theatrics than offer us a fiscally responsible treat.
• Dean Karayanis is a producer for the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, longtime Rush Limbaugh staffer, and host of History Author Show on iHeartRadio.