“The debt is being cynically exploited by the far right, with collusion of the Democrat establishment, to undermine what remains of social programs, public education, unions, and, in general, remaining barriers to corporate tyranny.”

Noam Chomsky

The new Republican House majority has staked out a number of goals, a few admirable and long overdue such as Congressional term limits while others popular with their GOP base lack broad popular support.  Among the latter are threatened investigations into or impeachment threats of Democrats whose policies they don’t like or whom they hope to embarrass, refugee and related immigration restrictions and renewed emphasis on divisive culture war issues including voting rights, abortion, racism, LGBTQ rights, diversity and gun control.

Of more immediacy and consequence to our country and its economy is the necessity to raise the nation’s debt ceiling to cover already committed expenditures and finalizing a federal budget; legislation being held hostage by the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus with whom Kevin McCarthy cut a Faustian deal to gain the Speaker’s gavel.

The last time there was no national debt was 1835 during Andrew Jackson’s Administration.  It then took until 1982 before reaching the $1 trillion level.  Since 2000, the collusion of Congressional Republicans and Democrats has collectively added more than $24 trillion to the debt … now $31.381 trillion!

While deficit spending is occasionally necessary to avert possible economic collapses (e.g., such as nearly occurred in 2008) or in time of a Congressionally-declared war (e.g., WWI and WWII), during times of peace and prosperity, a responsible goal should be to retire any accumulated debt.

Prior attempts to enact a balanced budget have sadly been more “form over substance”.  So-called bipartisan legislation to control spending has been meaningless as when consequential decisions must be made, Congress routinely changes the fiscal goalposts, implements “off-the-books” accounting schemes or simply ignores the law and allows the national debt and related debt-service costs to climb.

Members of Congress refuse to be honest with the American public and tell them balanced budgets and reducing the national debt will require a combination of spending cuts and/or increased tax revenues.

Before being willing to increase the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding a balanced budget based on dubious supply-side economic policies and draconian domestic spending and tax cuts (“dead on arrival” in the Senate) while Democrats have drawn “red lines” where it comes to any cuts to entitlement programs or new tax cuts (two of the Freedom Caucus’ requirements).

Americans deserve more! 

Perhaps, until Congressional Republicans and Democrats learn how to compromise and take serious and meaningful actions to address the debt, budget, immigration and other critical issues facing our country, they should forfeit all salary and benefits on a non-retroactive basis and be ineligible for reelection.