Patterico's Pontifications

2/19/2014

No, Republicans Did Not Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling — It’s Worse Than That

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

I touched on this last night, but I think it’s an important enough point to make into a separate post. In the recent debt ceiling fight, media outlets across the nation claimed that the GOP voted to raise the debt ceiling:

New York Times: House Approves Higher Debt Limit Without Condition

Los Angeles Times: House passes ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase

Washington Post: Congress approves increase in debt limit after dramatic vote

Reading these headlines, a citizen could be forgiven for thinking that there is a debt ceiling in place — but that it is higher today than it was before these “dramatic” votes to “raise” that debt ceiling.

In fact, that’s what I said here on this blog, in a post that I corrected last night.

I corrected the post because I was wrong. The debt ceiling was not “raised.”

It was suspended:

Contrary to widespread reporting by the media, Congress did not actually increase the debt limit on February 12. Instead, Congress rendered the debt limit statute inoperative, thereby waiving the debt limit, through March 15, 2015. This means that there is no debt limit in place to control borrowing for more than an entire year.

When the debt limit suspension ends, the debt limit is automatically increased to reflect the amount of borrowing that occurred since the last debt limit bound the Treasury. However, because there is no actual dollar-denominated limit on the national debt during the suspension period, taxpayers will not know for certain just how much more borrowing Congress authorized.

The debt limit last bound the Treasury on February 8, when the agency reported the new limit at more than $17.2 trillion. The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that, absent major changes in spending policy, the debt limit suspension will result in a $1 trillion increase in the debt limit on March 15, 2015.

This trick has pulled by Congress before. It’s embarrassing for politicians to say that they voted to raise the debt ceiling (especially when pesky folks like Ted Cruz prevent them from hiding their votes from the public eye). It’s even more embarrassing to raise the ceiling to a specific, sky-high number. So you just vote to suspend it. No number gets reported, as the entire media will misreport the story anyway.

As we sit here today, there is no debt ceiling at all. There is no mechanism restraining Congress and the President from spending us into oblivion — just their good sense and their deeply held beliefs about fiscal restraint.

Like I said, nothing at all.

Good thing we have those watchdogs in Big Media looking out for us, huh? Trouble is, politicians throw them a hunk of meat, and the watchdogs go to town munching away while the politicians sneak in and loot the Treasury.

29 Comments

  1. Ding.

    Comment by Patterico (9c670f) — 2/19/2014 @ 7:39 am

  2. Well, it was raised. By an amount to be determined later, based on how much is spent in the interim. And there is something that restrains spending now – the Constitution requires Congress to pass a law and the President to sign it. Which is the same process for raising the debt ceiling.

    Comment by A.S. (ce1c8e) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:04 am

  3. The people get what the people deserve.

    Comment by Former Conservative (6e026c) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:05 am

  4. Actually, my last comment was unthinking, reactionary. The entrenched powers don’t serve the people.

    This is interesting, however:

    Joe Trippi: There Will be a Libertarian President. And Sooner Than You Think.

    Comment by Former Conservative (6e026c) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:09 am

  5. The GOP is doing its best to drive me out of the party.

    Comment by SPQR (768505) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:10 am

  6. Previous generations sacrificed for us, but that wasn’t enough. Future generations will have to sacrifice for us too. We eat our young.

    Like the slave-built plantations of old, our world is built on the slavery of our descendants. Every monument or achievement we raise today will be desecrated by those unfortunate bankrupts of the future. Our few children will eventually learn to curse the memory of this leastest generation.

    Comment by Amphipolis (d3e04f) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:25 am

  7. Considering that the debt ceiling has never restrained spending, it’s not really the case that there is no now mechanism to restrain spending. Congress has never been constrained by anything other than their ‘good sense’.

    Comment by steve (369bc6) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:38 am

  8. We aren’t satisfied to spend our children’s inheritance. We also trash their birthright – constitutional government, the rule of law, individual justice, international respect. Fredom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy. The best health care system, educational system, military, and industry in the world. Culture, marriage, citizenship. All flushed down the toilet of history.

    Comment by Amphipolis (d3e04f) — 2/19/2014 @ 8:47 am

  9. No mechanism for restraining spending? What is the Republican-controlled House? Republican Senators still have the power of filibustering and cloture, no? Is it not true that Section 3 of the bill limits the raising of the debt ceiling to authorized spending under law? Is it not true that Treasury is only authorized to pay bills that are approved by Congress? Seems like your “no mechanism” comment is more than a little hyperbolic (Link)

    Comment by Bird Dog (130699) — 2/19/2014 @ 9:09 am

  10. well said, Amphipolis 6.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 2/19/2014 @ 9:31 am

  11. They’ve already spent us into oblivion. Most people just haven’t noticed yet; this is an attempt to hide the Sun in a bushel basket.

    Comment by htom (412a17) — 2/19/2014 @ 9:34 am

  12. “Good thing we have those watchdogs in Big Media looking out for us, huh? Trouble is, politicians throw them a hunk of meat, and the watchdogs go to town munching away while the politicians sneak in and loot the Treasury.”

    And that hunk of meat was Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and the TEA Party.

    Comment by UncleDan (efea20) — 2/19/2014 @ 10:05 am

  13. I guess I will be repaying this debt in 230gr & 146gr increments.

    Comment by askeptic (2bb434) — 2/19/2014 @ 10:35 am

  14. You are on a roll, Rico. Estupendo.

    13. Damn straight. Doubtless it will appear lunacy until the day your life really is forfeit, but it is absolutely unmistakable:

    Civil War, the Sequel is the intended Transformation.

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/19/2014 @ 11:09 am

  15. 9. “hyperbolic”

    Take care to give up your spot on the couch and on your master’s bed, Pooch.

    The use is called ‘ironic’. It’s an element of sarcasm.

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/19/2014 @ 11:19 am

  16. It had to happen:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-19/while-browsing-zero-hedge-certain-government-agency

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/19/2014 @ 11:31 am

  17. When Ron Paul starts making sense ….

    The one time I bothered to listen, he said that all spending bills should be “earmarks”. To fund a specific thing (I guess). It sounds good to me, now.

    Comment by nk (dbc370) — 2/19/2014 @ 11:31 am

  18. 17. When you put it that way, yeah.

    Congress’ delegation of regulatory authority to unsupervised bureaucrats is the source of boundless evil.

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/19/2014 @ 12:06 pm

  19. What the h e l l?

    Vote 61, cited by the NYT:

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll061.xml

    BILL TITLE: To designate the air route traffic control center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the “Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center”

    YEAS NAYS PRES NV
    REPUBLICAN 28 199 5
    DEMOCRATIC 193 2 5
    INDEPENDENT
    TOTALS 221 201 10

    Comment by Dave (in MA) (037445) — 2/19/2014 @ 12:08 pm

  20. “When Ron Paul starts making sense …”

    … you’re waking up. It’s a shock, I know. Believe me, I know.

    Comment by Former Conservative (6e026c) — 2/19/2014 @ 12:08 pm

  21. 19 Comment by Dave (in MA) (037445) — 2/19/2014 @ 12:08 pm

    .What the h e l l?

    Vote 61, cited by the NYT:

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll061.xml

    BILL TITLE: To designate the air route traffic control center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the “Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center”

    Oh, this is standard. They took an old bill, gutted it, or perhaps kept the non-controversial part, and amended it.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (3015b5) — 2/19/2014 @ 1:30 pm

  22. 15. “The use is called ‘ironic’. It’s an element of sarcasm.’

    Actually, I was being charitable to Patterico, gary, because what he said was provably false.

    Comment by Bird Dog (130699) — 2/19/2014 @ 5:23 pm

  23. Bb-b-but… according to McConnell & Cornyn, it was SUPREMELY gosh-darn URGENT to make CERTAIN that there was no chance we’d default, you see ….

    The “clean debt ceiling increase” was SO –>!!!IMPORTANT!!!<– that they voted to allow cloture (and then they voted against the measure because well, you know, they're up for re-election and even though it was a matter of "principle" and it just HAD to be done, they wanted John and JoAnn Sixpack to believe they opposed it …)

    The Republican Party is NOT the "loyal opposition" party. It's the "loyal accommodation" party – and it can DROP DEAD.

    Comment by A_Nonny_Mouse (57cacf) — 2/19/2014 @ 6:30 pm

  24. america should default like the defaulting whore she is

    and then we can all point and laugh

    and then we can

    I dunno

    make cheese popcorn or something

    Comment by happyfeet (8ce051) — 2/19/2014 @ 6:33 pm

  25. 22. You’ve given me no confidence in your apprehensive capacity. I doubt your understanding of proof or its endeavor.

    Comment by gary gulrud (e2cef3) — 2/19/2014 @ 7:24 pm

  26. Why is anybody confident that President Obama will limit his expenditures to those items passed by Congress? What is the source of that?

    Comment by TMLutas (0876a3) — 2/20/2014 @ 6:56 am

  27. Comment by A_Nonny_Mouse (57cacf) — 2/19/2014 @ 6:30 pm

    The “clean debt ceiling increase” was SO –>!!!IMPORTANT!!!<– that they voted to allow cloture (and then they voted against the measure because well, you know, they're up for re-election and even though it was a matter of "principle" and it just HAD to be done, they wanted John and JoAnn Sixpack to believe they opposed it …)

    This shows you that all these “how they voted” tabulations can be very, very, misleading,

    If they weren’t misleading, voting yes on cloture and then against the bill raising the debt ceiling would not make too much sense (unless it was a point of principle with you that votes on such a matter should be not be filibustered.)

    They are also misleading when you have members willing to vote a different way if the vote was close and their vote as needed.

    Often only things like that explain wining by one vote (Democrats often do that) but in this case, McConnell got more votes, once he had enough. That avoided anyone being the “deciding vote.”

    You can’t rely on these scorecards. They can give a totally false impression. But they are useful to the organizations compiling them, and many don’t care that they are misleading.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (3015b5) — 2/20/2014 @ 7:22 am

  28. Comment by askeptic (2bb434) — 2/19/2014 @ 10:35 am

    I guess I will be repaying this debt in 230gr & 146gr increments.

    gr = grams? Grains? I don’t understand this.

    The debt most likely won’t be repaid, anyway. It’ll just be carried on the books, and inflation and economic and population growth will gradually reduce its ratio to per capita income.

    If it doesn’t get too high in the meantime.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (3015b5) — 2/20/2014 @ 7:26 am

  29. 25. Then I guess showing three mechanisms that constrain spending is just not enough to satisfy some folks, gary.

    Comment by Bird Dog (130699) — 2/20/2014 @ 9:37 am

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