Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Do House Republicans realize they just endorsed a higher debt limit?

Paul Ryan

The fiscal 2012 budget resolution proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) drew the support of all 235 Republicans present and voting Friday, as well as the opposition from all 193 Democrats in attendance. That means 235 members of the House GOP are now on record in favor of slowing the growth of domestic discretionary spending and Medicaid, shrinking the deficit gradually through fiscal 2015, and sharply reducing federal spending as a percentage of the economy over the long term.

They're also on record favoring an increase in the debt ceiling, which currently stands at $14.3 trillion.

Pages 5 and 6 of the budget resolution declare that the "appropriate levels of debt" subject to the debt ceiling are as follows:

Fiscal year 2012: $16,204,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2013: $17,177,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2014: $17,955,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2015: $18,704,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2016: $19,513,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2017: $20,257,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2018: $20,981,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2019: $21,711,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2020: $22,416,000,000,000.
Fiscal year 2021: $23,105,000,000,000.

As far as I could tell, no amendments were offered to reduce the levels of spending outlined in the budget to hold that level of debt at or below $14.3 trillion. So, I guess that means Republicans won't object to raising the current debt ceiling within the next few weeks so that the federal government can honor the commitments it has already made?

I know, this sounds like another one of those "gotcha" posts. That's not my point. As The Times' editorial board has said (most recently on Tuesday), the fight over borrowing should be waged on the budget resolution (where Congress sets limits on spending overall and by category), appropriations bills (where Congress authorizes the executive branch to spend money) and on laws affecting taxes and entitlements (where Congress determines how much the government collects and how much it hands out automatically to qualified beneficiaries). It should not be waged over the debt ceiling. It makes no sense to demagogue over the debt ceiling after concluding two contentious debates over budgets (on the Ryan resolution and the spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2011), both of which push the debt past the statutory limit.


Doyle McManus: Drawing budget battle lines

Obama's budget retort

Playing chicken with the budget

Tim Rutten: Paul Ryan's budget blueprint would push the aged into poverty

Michael Kinsley: Paul Ryan, budget slasher or big talker?

-- Jon Healey

Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) talks about the budget on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington Sunday, April 10, 2011. Credit: William B. Plowman / AP Photo / NBC


Comments () | Archives (21)

The comments to this entry are closed.


These are evil people trying to placate decent, but misguided folk. They are only looking out for their wealthy buddies.


Spending less than the Democrats want to spend is not the same thing as cutting spending.

Why is that such a difficult concept for reporters to understand. It was the Republican mantra when Clinton was President.

This bill INCREASES spending, deficits, and the National Debt for the next ten years.


Does the public know tat the majority of the press is a liberal and socialist media!

jeremy parker

This article is pointless and brings up an insignificant and spun point. The Republicans know the debt limit will have to rise, which is why they have specificallly stated time and time again that they will raise it ONLY when Obama and democrats show a serious motivation to cut the debt. This is their plan to do just what they said they are waiting for democrats to join in for.


So if they oppose raising the debt ceiling in the next few weeks, they are hypocrites. Nothing new about that.

I was just surprised they didn't just get it over with and say no more Social Security, no more Medicare, no more unions, and no more tax if you make more that a million year.


No one wants to make the tough cuts. What we really need to do is cut the amount spent by federal government in half. And even that won't get us to a balanced budget due to the multiplier effect on GDP and tax revenues. It'll be close though, and from there raise taxes a bit so that we run a small surplus.

The problem with cutting government in half is that there are a lot of sacred cows that will be eviscerated with that magnitude of cuts. Unfortunately, politicians on both sides of the aisle lack the spine to make cuts that deep.
We are much more likely to default on our debt either consciously or through hyperinflation, as the path we are on is unsustainable. Do we default in 2011 or 2015? More likely 2015, as politicians are also very adept at kicking the can down the road - just look at how the savings on both Ryan's and Obama's plans are backloaded.

Ms. McCourt

Is it a gotcha post when you point out the obvious: Republicans are the biggest hypocrites on the planet.

Native Angeleno

Of course these lying Republicans voted to raise the debt limit! They betray their Tea Partiers, who foolishly linked wagons to them, and set up their limp-wristed dance partners, the Democrats, to keep moving to the Right, leaving vast tax cuts for rich folks untouched and sarosanct for another decade, knowing that the pressure will be on to keep relief flowing out for Americans socked by the Deeperession THEIR joint policies allowing the casino on Wall St to destroy the economy turn this once-solvent (2000) nation into a 3rd world basket case.

The enemy, people, is BOTH parties. The sooner we wake up and fund Independents who refuse corporate money running for their seats, and we STOP voting for one party out of fear of the other party, when BOTH, COLLECTIVELY, have put us in the poorhouse, we'll stop the madness and begin to repair the damage. Not until. So long as we don't, everything will just get worse and worse. THAT is the longterm trend, based on the clearcut data how these betrayers built a banana republic defense monster responsible for 60% of the current budget THEY JOINTLY voted into law.

WarWarWar + taxcuts for the wealthy = continuing Deeperession and gutting of services, which they LOVE, for how it keeps the cost of labor down. Wealthy masters love cheap slaves.

It says in the Constitution, that this govt was DESIGNED to help the GENERAL welfare. That makes every member of these 2 parties traitors to their oaths. Don't vote for either of them, fund and work for Independents who vow to stop what they are dooing to you, and us all.

Patrick Tarango

Yeah, what he said


Republicans don't realize anything. President Bush and his supporters argued that high-income tax cuts would benefit everybody because they would unleash investment that would spark widespread economic prosperity.

There is no evidence of this. From 2000 to 2007, the United States lost one in five (3.5 million) middle-class jobs. A majority of the new jobs created in the United States under Bush pay extremely low wages at less than $18,000 a year, usually without benefits. This is with corporate profits at an all time high since 1960.

The 2005 CBO data show that changes in law enacted since January 2001 increased the deficit by $539 billion in 2005. In the absence of such legislation, the nation would have a surplus that year. In 2010, when all the Bush tax cuts were finally phased in, a staggering 52.5 percent of the benefits went to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers.

I'm tired of Republicans. It was all a nice puppet show. Foolish elderly Republican voters actually think that Republicans are going to repeal the Heath Care Reforms and ban earmarks and bring "freedom" back.

Would you hire a confessed animal hater to run a pet store? No? Then why would you elect politicians who freely admit to despising government?

Republicans rally against regulation of industry, and then America sees how that turns out when BP spills a million barrels of oil in our seas. Republicans will rally against gay people, stripping them of civil rights, and then you find them tapping their toes in airport bathrooms looking for their gay lovers. Republicans will rally against non-existent communists but have no problem driving our economy to the ground with Karl Marx like spending of trillions of tax dollars that they borrowed from China for endless wars against enemies that did not attack us.

After the last ten years of watching Republicans one word stands out as defining them perfectly; hypocrite. A vote for a Republican is literally a vote for the absence of leadership.

Hands down, I'm voting for the Democrats for the next decade.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
- Warren Buffet, the 2nd richest man in America


Please offer the same projections of the "appropriate debt limit" in the so-called Obama budget plan for the next 12 years of April,2011.

That would be fair, even to the liberal-Obama-Democrat Opinion folks at LA Times.

While you're at it: please identify exactly how much of this escalating "debt
limit" is due to programs of government spending instituted by the Democrats
and Obama since their control of Congress in 2007.

Oh, let's see the 10-12 year "debt limit" projections by:
a. The Bowles-Simpson Commission's plan
b) The Rand Paul Plan

Bottom line: ALL Plans raise the Debt Limit bec of Democrat 12 yr trajectory!
Obama-Democrat Plans raise it the most--and they do it in 12 yrs
Debt Commission roughly parallels Ryan debt limit--with 10(not
12 year)Plan

Joe flabenc

What single thought gives a conservative more satisfaction than imagining himself as part of the "oppressed" white majority? What fills a conservative with greater joy than picturing himself as the poor, disadvantaged white man, under assault from all sides by the lazy minority living on welfare?

They love finding scapegoats, whether it be the union teachers, Muslims, Seniors, anchor babies, liberals, or even the unemployed. These type of people thrive on looking for minorities to complain about, vilify, and trace all of the problems of society to so they can keep us divided and fighting among ourselves. Meanwhile they are passing deficit exploding tax cuts for millionaires and laughing all the way to the bank.

Right-wingers, whether here in the modern US, or back in Nazi Germany, it's the same mentality, it's the same sort of people.


Best solution: 5 year reduction of all federal government spending to the level of 2006--cutting all new federal government employees and departments(Homeland Security,TSA.HHS-Obamacare Division,
Student Loans/Pell Grants in Office of Education) and
freezing maximum SSI and Medicaid allocations to 2006 level--with explicit exclusion of any SSI or Medicaid for ILLEGAL MIGRANTS and their
families residing in USA without any LEGAL invitation or VISA, or permit.

We need a 5 year Plan, not a 10 year plan(Ryan and Commission) and certainly nor a phony 12 year Plan of Lord Obama.

Let the weeping begin--by all Obama sycophants and dependents on the taxpayers(50% who really pay income taxes). Weep:the free lunch provided by Obama's theft from the 50% taxpayers is over!! Let those who do not sow,not reap the fruits of those who do!!

Jon Healey

@Buddha8 -- Umm, no. Debt limits have to be raised when you run deficits. That's a mathematical reality. At the moment, we have a deficit because of two problems: the recession caused tax revenues to fall far below historical levels (when measured against GDP), although the tax cuts from the Bush administration (and renewed under Obama) haven't helped on that score, and spending has LONG been well above the historical level of tax revenue. See http://www.deptofnumbers.com/blog/2010/08/tax-revenue-as-a-fraction-of-gdp/ and http://www.deptofnumbers.com/blog/2011/02/gov-expenditures-gdp-fraction/. By LONG, I mean since the Reagan administration. The only period during those years when spending and revenues were in balance was during the Clinton administration -- feel free to assign credit wherever you wish.

The point of this piece wasn't to say which party or plan does the best job of controlling deficits. I've opined in the past in favor of several of them. The point here is to say, the time to do something about the rising debt is on measures like this one -- the annual budget resolution -- not on the vote to raise the debt ceiling. Because it's inconsistent to vote for the debt levels called for by this resolution, then against a bill to let the government actually borrow the money.

Jon Healey

@CNReporter -- The resolution doesn't increase the deficit. Assuming the Senate adopts it (which is a dangerous assumption) and that its spending limits are enforced, the deficit would shrink through 2015. After that it would fluctuate. It also would cut spending over time for certain government functions, such as the global war on terror, and increase it for others.

You may not like the notion of a budget baseline, which reflects the amount of money needed in future years to continue offering services at the current level. I'm not crazy about it myself. But it's the way big organizations operate. If I'm General Foods and I know that the cost of the commodities I use to make my cereals is going up, I can't pretend that I can maintain the same amount of production for the same amount of dollars. If I don't increase spending enough to cover the higher costs, I'm going to have to cut production.

Jon Healey

@Jeremy -- That's what some Republicans have said. But others - and some Democrats - have simply said they won't support increasing the debt limit. Again, the point I'm making is that the debt limit vote should be dictated by the position folks take on the measures that give rise to the deficit.


Does the LA Times realize they just endorsed the House Republican Budget?


I don't know why this is even news. You can not cut spending and upper income taxes at the same time. It does little or nothing to reduce the deficit. But then with Repug math what do you expect. I want to know why the Greedy Old Party/Teabaggers hate this country and the middle class so much.


Now, there you go using that "theory" and "math" argument. If you use that "math" stuff, then "in theory" your would be correct. But we all know that those "theories" and that "mathematics" is one of those liberally biased tools. What counts is that the GOP says that is what happened. You are, obviously, part of that liberally biased media, using that "what they actually did" theory. It all makes perfect sense if you just listen to what they say happened. Remember, it's "do what I say", not "do what I do."


Hasn't anyone caught on yet?

Debt is the tool that neoliberals (ie Republicans and most Democrats) use to destroy government services.

That's why they cut taxes in the first place!

Neoliberals will always try to create debt so that they can later reduce it by destroying programmes for people, to which they are ideologically opposed.


What we need to do is put some perspective around the 1.5 tr budget deficit. Almost every Progressive economist says we should be spending more domestically, not less. All of them say we should not cut SS or Medicare because it will have a negative impact on the economy. This includes Krugman, Dean Baker, Robert Reich and Joseph Stiglitz.

First, our discretionary budget is approx 2.6 tr. Our total gross domestic product is between 13 and 14 tr. Of the discretionary budget, which does not include social security yet is always termed or insinuated to be in it, 1.2 tr, at least, is military spending. Medicare is in the discretionary budget, but, wouldn't it make sense to at least have pharmaceuticals be on a bid process?? That would free up a tremendous savings for seniors and our govt.

Second, Nomi Prinz did a calculation of how much we lent out to the banks in 2008 to save them. That calculation was approximately 14 trillion dollars. Same as our GDP for a year. We continue to provide these large mega banks with almost 0% interest loans, in fact, they are .025%. The banks use the money to invest overseas and are not loaning money here. How much does this contribute to the deficit??

Third, we never had a concern before about deficits, in fact, banks and economists DO NOT want us to have a surplus. Money is created from debt. Of course, money is also created by the Fed which is why we can print more if need be. Some say we would fear hyperinflation. Bernanke did a 600 mil quantitative easing last year with another 600 mil slated. Thats, amazingly, 1.2 tr. It was supposed to get lending moving. Didn't.

Fourth, Per an article just this morning, the Libyan war is already costing us 600 mil plus. That would equal 40% of the 1.5 tr deficit. http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/04/12/when-will-it-be-time-to-cut-military-spending/?akid=6823.27929.o5qn0Y&rd=1&t=35/?akid=6823.27929.o5qn0Y&rd=1&t=35&page=comments What budget is that coming from? Is it unaccounted for?? How can we make war but not take care of our seniors, disabled and children??

Fifth, the tax cuts provide a double injury to govt revenues. They reduce revenues and then we have to make up for the lost revenue, if we continue spending the same amount, by borrowing to keep things floating as is. Bad policy and bad practice.

Last, the deficit hysteria was created by the conservatives. They do not want us spending like Roosevelt did in the 1940's and for it to be successful. In fact, they want it to fail, and specifically, Obama to fail. The problem is, the Democrats, or some of them, have bought into this argument too. It's another one of those propaganda moves that on the surface sounds sensible but when you start digging, you find a turd. A question that I never see asked is this, if we increase the age of retirement, raise the income level ceiling to some other limit, what happens to that money? Does it continue to build in the account or is it going to be lent out to keep the general budget functioning? Pretty soon, the age limit will be set for after everyone dies but the money/tax will still be floating into the fund. This is bad policy for Progressives and America as a whole. We need to cut our military spending and put it to good use on the things that are important to us.



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...