Respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll were split on raising the debt ceiling. A slight plurality—36 percent—said Congress should not increase the nation’s debt limit. On Aug. 2, the United States will no longer be able to pay all its obligations if the ceiling is not raised.
The debt ceiling has been raised 10 times over the past decade and more than 70 times since 1962. It stands at $14.3 trillion.
Some 34 percent of respondents said the borrowing limit should be increased only if the increase is accompanying by cuts in future spending.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has urged lawmakers to raise the legal borrowing limit “to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoid catastrophic economic consequences.” And last week, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned that failure to raise the debt limit could cause “severe disruptions in financial markets.”
Thirty percent of Snap Poll respondents favor raising the debt ceiling without conditions.
More than 640 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted June 20 and 21.
In your view, should Congress raise the federal government’s debt ceiling?
No, it should not raise the debt ceiling: 36%
It should raise the debt ceiling only if offset by future spending cuts: 34%
Yes, it should raise the debt ceiling: 30%
Here are some comments from readers:
This is absurd! If I max out my credit card, they’re not going to increase my limit so I can dig the hole deeper. Where do they think the mortgage crisis came from? You shouldn’t spend what you don’t have. It’s time for more fiscal responsibility.
If Congress makes the right choices such as slashing the government bureaucracy in the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, etc., they could easily avoid raising the debt ceiling. There is much duplication just between the federal government and similar departments at the state and local levels. When a communist country like China is critical of our deficits and debt, it’s time to take the bull by the horns and reduce spending and the debt ceiling!
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
We need to be fiscally responsible as a country. This does nothing toward that goal. In fact it puts the U.S. in a worst-case scenario. We need to pare down our debts, not print more (worthless) money and increase our debt.
—Ruth Ditch, Delta Square
Is this a serious question? The debt limit has to be raised to avoid imminent financial calamity. The debt, on the other hand, must be reduced to avoid inevitable financial calamity. Trillion-dollar deficits are unacceptable. Billion-dollar deficits are unacceptable. A plan to have a surplus in the not-too-distant future should be our goal. That is unattainable with current leadership (or lack thereof). Time for real change.
Why are we even discussing this subject? The United States of America is broke, and we keep borrowing as if we have large amounts of money that will magically appear in our coffers to pay off these huge debts. Sensible politicians have been telling us for decades that we need to break the chain of borrowing to pay our debts, i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. I remember Thomas Sowell on “Meet the Press” saying that Social Security was unsustainable in 1981. Yet, we keep plowing through money and borrowing more money. I have said for years that our adversaries cannot beat us militarily but they can beat us monetarily. Take a look around the way our government is operating: constantly in debt. Do you think they are winning?
—Phil Turturici, Absolute Consulting
The debt ceiling targets immediate cash availability; not raising it will create myriad other problems and costs. Spending cuts are a problem of determining priorities and must be addressed, but meaningful spending cuts will not be made in a short-term “fix.” We should demand our representatives address spending cuts forthwith, but not at the price of creating a costly problem of insufficient cash, making matters of our economy even worse.
Raise the ceiling and then get to work on growing the economy and reducing spending. Regardless of party affiliation, don’t make major economic decisions with global impact based on anger and frustration. Start working together toward common goals or go home. We’re wasting precious time playing politics.
Yes, because No. 71 is that much worse than No. 70. If the Congress had enough courage to work together, they could solve these problems without causing a crisis. I think that making these problems into in-your-face issues just creates uncertainty and doesn’t help anyone.
Both sides are correct on this one. Not raising the debt ceiling will have disastrous results in the financial markets; just look at Greece. But not cutting spending and starting to pay down the debt will have worse consequences. As a big critic of any form of tax increase, readers familiar with my posts will be surprised to hear me say that it is finally time to cut the debt, and the only way to do it quickly enough to avoid catastrophe is to dramatically cut spending and raise taxes. Income taxes, fees, whatever it takes. We should be cautious, though, regarding taxing small business. I am a high-income earner, but I don’t create jobs; I work for a corporation. Tax me. Don’t overly tax the small businessman, or we will kill any chance at growth, the third leg of debt paydown. Thanks to Obamacare, small businesses will be taxed 44 percent of income starting next year. Cut the small-business income tax, but raise the salary income tax for high-income earners. At the same time, start modestly taxing the 51 percent of Americans who pay no taxes.
—Joe Fabetes, Rochester
A line needs to be drawn. Across the board cuts need to be made. It’s time to pay for our mistakes. Nothing should be spared. Americans are doing it at home. It’s time to do it on the state and national level. Cut everything. No bailouts.
Everyone but government officials knows that if you continue to borrow more than you earn, you will be bankrupt at some point. Past government officials of both parties have ignored this simple fact and passed the problem down the road through scare tactics and ignorance. We now have officials so entrenched in government careers that it would take a complete turnover of elected officials to clean up the mess.
—Eric Muench, president, Genesistems Inc.
Why should the government at both federal and state levels be allowed to continue raising their budget debt ceilings while the American public continues to tighten its belt? If a consumer lives beyond their means, their credit rating drops, interest rates rise and access to credit is denied. If the government lives beyond its means, it simply passes a law to raise the level of spending allowances with few consequences, if any. What is wrong with this picture? For example: If the government takes in $1 trillion in revenue and spends $2 trillion on expenses, special projects, employee benefits, raises for politicians, etc., will the budget ever be balanced? The math does not add up; it must be that “new” math I keep hearing about. It is time for the government to get real and implement meaningful fiscal responsibility guidelines in order to correct the financial mess our country is in. The time for posturing, name calling, and non bipartisan politics needs to end. The consequences of our government’s actions are a direct result of our politicians and lobbyists irresponsible spending agendas. Who are they to waste the taxpayers’ money? Clearly our politicians are not representing the best interests of "the people."
—L.S. Decker, MVP Health Plan
These bozos have left us little choice. As long as they do at least a two-for-one (cut to spending), I guess it will work for me.
—Jim Duke, Victor
Raising the debt ceiling will only allow the politicians to put off the spending cuts that are needed. The U.S. is already too far in debt. If we don’t stop the borrow-and-spend binge, we will be like Greece in a few years. We will be broke with no money to pay for the government pensions and entitlements to all of the Entitled Class.
—Dennis Ditch, Delta Square Inc.
The greatness of the United States of America is being undermined by incompetent, self-serving politicians. The founding fathers of this great Republic had the wisdom, foresight, courage and commitment to forge the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Then literally fight for what those words said. If you make some time to read these documents and contemplate about where we are now as a country, things become clear as to where all of our problems as a country emanate from. Really, do yourself a favor and review both of them. This country was founded on simple rights and freedom for the citizens. The government is supposed to protect those rights and insure our freedom. Plain and simple, that’s it. The government has evolved into something it was never intended to be. We desperately need to diminish the size, scope, expenditure, employment, programs, staffs, property, pensions, power, intrusion, and overreach of our government. We absolutely do not need rules, regulations and taxes from every level of government to include federal, state, county, city, town, and village. So no, I don’t want to raise the tax ceiling, I want to cut it and keep cutting it until our government is diminished to our founding fathers’ grand design and solvent. All while lessening the tax burden of its citizens. People have choices. They don’t have to work and contribute to this great country. They don’t have to live here either. We once fought for individual freedom and freedom from taxation and tyranny. We need true leaders with the courage and conviction to get us back to our founding principles. Remember that the politicians in office are a perfect reflection of the voters at the polls. That’s the only way they get their jobs. Think about that this November when you’re too busy to take five minutes to vote. No to raising the debt ceiling, yes to competent governance.
It has to. These guys should stop trying to impress us.
We need to lower spending and increase revenue to deal with the current and long term debt issues. We need to raise the debt ceiling because social security and medical spending and discretionary war, etc. spending have increased too fast and revenues as a percent of gross domestic product have declined too much.
—Mike Bleeg, Strategic Results
We need to review existing programs—streamline, make changes and reallocate funds. A good starting place would be the bloated defense budget. America’s infrastructure is struggling. People need jobs. Generational welfare must end. All able-bodied people need to work and contribute to the health and welfare of the USA.
It’s a rare opportunity to shake those folks and let them know that spending must be reduced, focused, and better structured. Spending limits alone will not do it. Every action should be across the board. In every business that I know, tighter budgets usually bring smarter spending. This government is out of control. This administration is a "one-trick pony," and the rodeo has left town.
A sovereign government like ours is never revenue-constrained because it is the monopoly issuer of its own currency.
The federal government (like our state government and many of our local governments) does not have revenue problems, it has spending problems. Raising the federal debt ceiling will not solve the spending problems. Congress needs to address the debt problem by cutting spending not by raising the debt ceiling.
—Doug Lyon, Lyon Capital Management
We read about the pay and benefits and perks people in congress get, and become disgusted, yet nothing is done. Who the heck do they think they are where they feel they can establish rules that only benefit themselves. In my summation, and in many others views, they can only be described as "gluttonous pigs." Start acting like it’s your own business, and the decisions you make will either make or break your business and family. The "wantingness" of money, is the root of all evil.
—Paul Smith, Webster
For many reasons, the debt ceiling must be increased. The Republicans are disingenuous for blackmailing the process. How disingenuous to “fight” tax increases when they are planning to impose the biggest tax increase of all times on the retirees, sick and poor? After all, they are the main reason that instead of working toward budgetary responsibility—which they insisted on under President Clinton—they gave away this opportunity when President Bush II and the Republicans got into power (remember the cash handouts?), when they instigated two unnecessary wars, and when they began making huge debts to pay for those wars. Now they want to impose the biggest tax increase ever by invading Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those of us who are in need of these programs have paid all our working life into the government kitty, yes, for our security. Now, as we need to withdraw our life’s savings from the government bank, the Republicans also want to withdraw from our Social Security savings. Apparently, they want to pay for handouts to their rich friends. Notice, that they don’t want to save on handouts to the oil companies and others? They don’t want to “hurt” those! What a scam for the worst tax increase on the poor and powerless! Get that *&* debt ceiling raised and separate it from financial responsibility which is not fairly done by blackmailing and robbing the bank.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
The U.S. cannot ignore what has happened to countries like Greece, Spain and Ireland that have spent way beyond their incomes. Our legacy to our children and grandchildren should not be a massive national debt!
—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions, Inc.
By stopping Congress’ insatiable appetite to borrow and spend our money, we will create a virtual balance budget amendment, which is what our country needs most.
—Mark DiFelice, DiFelice Development Inc.
Absolutely no! By raising the debt ceiling it only encourages more spending. If anything needs to be raised it should be the public’s awareness of how much money is looted from individuals and business to support things that are not even mentioned in our nation’s constitution. Now is the time congress should be cutting taxes, not arranging ways to enable themselves to spend more.
—Michael Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party
Yes, we must raise the debt ceiling but, it is absolutely unconscionable to have our elected officials make it sound like they have tried and tried but the "other guy" won’t enact the spending cuts that should have been brought forward before this, the eleventh hour. I can only say that if the same idiot factor were running rampant in my business that is certainly running rampant in Washington, we’d be out of business. I’m so tired of having everyone in Washington cry buckets of salt water tears and wring their hands like it’s not their fault that we’re broke. It is their fault and it’s high time they got some guts and do what is necessary (and best) for the country. And, if you don’t have anything better than the Ryan plan, shut up and work with it. And, if you can’t do that, then quit.
The lunatics in Washington are playing with fire here. To even suggest the debt ceiling won’t be raised sends a very damaging message to our government lenders, most notably China. Not wise. Raise the ceiling, then get serious about those cuts.
—David Lamb, Rochester
The debt and recovery are two entirely separate issues. Any recovery starts with massive government investment, and we have ample history to demonstrate that, here and elsewhere in the world. We need to have Congress go back to grade school and do some studying. We need to raise taxes on those with incomes over $300,000 per year; do away with compensation taxed at capital gains rates; spend like there’s no tomorrow until this economy gets back on its feet. There is no real debt crisis. The true measure of insolvency is what it costs to insure the debt. Right now the U.S. debt is among the least expensive, of all countries, to insure (~$48K/$10M). The U.S. currency is also the coin of the realm, worldwide. If we do it right, all boats will float, since we so deeply affect the world economy. Last but not least these Tea Party folks who are yelling the loudest in Congress have an inordinately high percentage of millionaires in their midst. Why do they feel compelled to make it hard for the rest of the country, putting the U.S. down as a debtor nation? We need members of Congress who are not un-American, who care for and work for the average folks.
No to a higher debt limit. Obama has already wasted a trillion dollars with no results. Start doing what regular folks do—spend less. The government needs to be downsized!
—George Thomas, Ogden.
Government needs to reign in its excesses. We cannot, overnight, reduce the deficit but all political parties need to rise to the occasion of fiscal responsibility. At the moment the Republicans seem to be the only party in the game. The liberals absolutely must get in the game before it is too late. Disaster waits if they don’t.
—Mike Kaser, Penfield
6/24/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.