Over the past few weeks, Democrats have indicated that they have no intention of negotiating over Obamacare, opting instead to shut down the government. They are justifying their obstinacy by asserting that Obamacare is the law of the land. Well, if that is the game they want to play, we should return the favor with the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling, pursuant to the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, is the law of the land. And it has been so for far longer than Obamacare.
Throughout this debate over funding Obamacare in the budget bill, House GOP leaders have stressed how the debt ceiling was the more appropriate means of fighting Obamacare. After all, it was “the next fight.” But as if on cue, some Republicans are already using the same Democrat talking points about the risk of default.
We are going to hear this erroneous talking point propagated by both parties over the next few weeks, so let’s put the myth to rest. The only way we default on the debt is if we fail to pay the interest on the public debt. According to the updated budget projection from the CBO, interest on the debt will be roughly $237 billion for 2014. Thanks to the short-term revenue benefits of the fiscal cliff and Obamacare tax hikes, the federal government is expected to rake in a record $3.042 trillion from the private economy this year.
Let’s engage in a simple math exercise. $3.042 trillion - $237 billion = $2.805 trillion. As long as the Treasury pays the first $237 billion in revenue to the shareholders of our debt, there will be no default, and we will have $2.805 trillion left to spend. Again, default is taken off the table. Discussion over.
What do you do with the remaining funds? You start funding core functions of government and those programs that people are already dependent on.
Social Security (retirement and disability) - $848 billion
Medicare - $505 billion
Medicaid - $298 billion
Defense - $582 billion
Veterans - $83 billion
Those expenditures account for roughly $2.3 trillion. The remaining half trillion can be prioritized as needed for other functions related to homeland security, national parks, or any other limited function. Hence, the debt ceiling is a built-in balanced budget mechanism. If Democrats want to fund other functions of government, they need to commit to a balanced budget. If they want to fund the HHS and the IRS, they need to get rid of Obamacare. If they want to fund the EPA, they need to get rid of the war on coal.
The power of the purse manifest in the House of Representatives, in conjunction with the debt ceiling law, reflects democracy at work, especially with divided government. It’s time we stop peddling the myth of default, and start using our leverage to restore constitutional government and bring relief to those who are losing jobs and suffering from the high cost of living engendered by the harmful activities of the unconstitutional aspects of government.