By: Michael Clayton
Everywhere you look in the media, the debate of a possible strike on Syria dominates the headlines. What happened to the other major issues that Congress was supposed to be concerned with this session?
Federal Budget & Debt Ceiling:
- Without a doubt the most pressing issues…
- The new fiscal year begins on October 1st, and Congress doesn’t seem close to reaching a deal on the budget. One reason may be that the previous deal, reached on January 1st of this year, raised taxes among Americans earning over $450,000 per year while maintaining benefits for 2 million long-term unemployed. Many Republicans will not support another deal that raises taxes, either because they are principled advocates of limited government—like Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Representatives Thomas Massie and Justin Amash, or they know their constituents would not accept another tax increase. Therefore, it is unlikely that any budget deal that raises taxes could get through the GOP-controlled House, unless John Boehner was willing to once again pass a deal with a majority of Democrat votes. He is unlikely to do that, as that could put his speakership in jeopardy. Of course, many Republicans remain determined to dismantle ObamaCare by refusing to support any Continuing Resolution or debt ceiling deal that funds ObamaCare.
- Meanwhile, as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced a couple weeks ago, the government will reach the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling in the middle of October, a month or two before expected. If a deal is not reached, the U.S.’ credit rating could once again be downgraded, which could increase the burden of financing the debt—a burden ultimately borne by the American people.
- The upcoming fiscal showdown should be the top talking point for all members of Congress, but the Syrian conflict has overshadowed these key issues. The civil war that is going on in Syria is without a doubt deplorable and sad, but the fact that it contains little to no U.S. national interest should make our own financial obligations top priority. In fact, if the U.S. is foolish enough to go to war in Syria, expect President Obama and his big-spending allies to use that as a justification for a budget deal that increases spending.
- In a joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister last week, President Obama admitted for the first time that there are “legitimate questions” about the NSA. Obama claimed that, “There are a lot of checks and balances in place designed to avoid a surveillance state.” However, many Americans are not convinced, and new reports that the National Security Agency has acquired the tools to crack privacy codes on smartphones are not helping the agency’s cause. It is clear that something must be done to reform specific pieces of the Patriot Act (and the NDAA) in order to protect American’s civil liberties. There seems to be little to no chance of that happening in the near future.
With these issues all deserving attention, when will Congress find the time to pass decisive legislation? The easy answer is that they won’t, but you should expect another budget deal to be proposed that increases the spending capabilities of an already overgrown federal government.