I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befall this country, than be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge. If this be a just remark, it is unwise and improvident to vest in the general government a power to borrow at discretion, without any limitation or restriction.
We have been moving steadily towards this calamity since the dawn of the Progressive Era. The object of government transitioned from defending the liberty of its people to buying votes on the promise of a more fair concept of liberty, fully funded by the Federal Government. Over time, the spending became ingrained into the culture of our government by the New Deal, the Great Society, and myriad other interest focused expenditures that fall outside of the traditional role, the intended role, of the Federal Government.
If we are to raise the Debt Ceiling, it must be combined with Sen. Lee's Balanced Budget Amendment, binding the hands of our elected representatives and restoring the object of our Government and its spending in the process.
Sen. Lee sat down with Robert Costa of NRO and talked about his Amendment and a letter he sent out recently urging support of his Amendment. A letter cosigned by a few conservative tea party darlings, Sen. DeMint, Sen. Paul and Sen. Rubio.
Sen. Lee talked down the Democrat hysterics* about not raising the debt ceiling, instead focusing - in the fashion of Brutus - on the real danger of raising the debt while not restraining those charged with spending the money.
“We are always hearing the Left, from the political establishment, that it would be catastrophic if we do not raise the debt limit,” Lee sighs. “I don’t mean to minimize the significance of that happening; it would create a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear. But we have to remember that there are at least equal corresponding risks of raising it without putting anything else in place.”
Expanding our allowable debt while providing no indication of a change in spending behavior will further degrade our economic position in the eyes of the world. More important than that, the mountain of debt we would be saddling our children and grandchildren with by not restraining the government spending culture.
Sen. Lee sees the danger this would place our nation in, he understands that we must now draw a line in the sand and not accept half measures, such as statutory spending restraints.
“You cannot bind Congress, statutorily, in a way that will survive for the longhaul,” he says. “Congress could just repeal the parts that it finds the most onerous.”
He knows this to be true by the simple facts of history, facts found in the Bowsher v.Synar ruling and the dismemberment of the related statutory act...
“We have to remember that Gramm-Rudman-Hollings didn’t make it more than about five years before Congress essentially repealed it, watering it down, and then it eventually fell off of the map,” he says. “This is the wrong entrée into a debt-ceiling increase because it is not sufficiently permanent.”
To bind the hands of Congress we must pass Sen. Lee's Amendment. "The means ought to be proportioned to the end", as Hamilton put it, and we are engaged in a fundamental debate as to what end we shall direct our means.
I believe that the object we seek is a limited government, constrained in its ability to spend and grow beyond its Constitutionally delegated power. The spending power of Congress has become too extensive for the object of a limited federal administration.
The debt ceiling must not be raised without the Balanced Budget Amendment being passed. As Sen. Lee said, "It is a condition precedent."
Aaron B. Gardner
* Erick highlighted the destruction of their Armageddon hysterics back in Jan.