What the debt ceiling is — and isn’t

The Washington Post
Jan. 7, 2013

For the umpteenth time: Raising the debt ceiling is not about future spending, but PAST spending approved by Congress, which Camp has been a part of for 22 years. Or as the Treasury pointed out in a “myth v. fact” document , on its Web site “Refusing to raise the debt limit does nothing to reduce those existing obligations or cut the deficit.”

To not pay those bills is to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States. And as we saw during the last debt-ceiling fight, to threaten not to pay them is to hit the nation with a credit downgrade. That’s what Standard and Poor’s did in 2011. That’s what Moody’s Investor Services threatened late last year.

According to the Government Accounting Office, the Bipartisan Policy Center 2011 standoff increased the nation’s borrowing costs by $1.3 billion that year. In a November report, the  estimated that the 10-year cost of that fight to taxpayers will be $18.9 billion. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised the cost to taxpayers will be astronomically higher. Why Republicans are willing to force us all to find out is beyond comprehension.