Putting Off the Debt for Later

The proposal to authorize a temporary debt-ceiling increase for a six week period is a maneuver to buy time and political breathing space for Republicans in the House of Representatives. Yet it provides no solutions or long-term benefits for the people of the United States.

This is a replay of the same old dynamics we have been witnessing for years between the House of Representatives and the White House whenever there is disagreement over the budget or the debt ceiling. The problem is put off for later, in hopes of winning tomorrow what cannot be won today. The disastrous budget sequesters are an example of such a strategy’s result.

That is why yesterday’s proposal, announced by House Speaker John Bohnner, to extend the debt ceiling for less than two months, is not a solution. It made no mention of reopening the government, which the Republicans are still futilely attempting to tie to the destruction of Obamacare. Likewise, congressional authorization for the government to sell bonds in order to cover its expenses for a few more weeks also falls short of a long-term solution.

The Republican offer is nothing more than damage control for its tarnished image, created by the ideological inflexibility that led to the government shutdown and a looming cessation of payments. The Congress’s approval rating is down to 5%, which, taking the margin of error into account, could actually be a mere 1%, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK survey.

The Republicans hope to climb their way out of the hole they dug. Yet it is hardly realistic to think that in six weeks the White House —when faced with another imminent term — will offer a deal over what it is presently refusing to negotiate, much less if the shutdown continues.

Experience indicates that even though President Obama is accepting the House proposal, that does not mean the conditions for its implementation have been agreed upon, especially if there is no change in attitude.

Our democracy has a politically divided government, which demands compromise in order to be able to function. The House proposal to extend the term, in its current form, simply buys more time for inflexible elements, so that they can keep causing harm.