Explaining the Debt Ceiling for Dummies – The Republican Edition

debtceilingWords really don’t convey how annoying the “debt ceiling debate” has become for me.  I struggle to even call it a debate because anyone who’s really considering not raising it is a damn fool – and you shouldn’t debate with fools.

I don’t even mind if you want to use the act of raising the debt ceiling as a catalyst to talk about ways we might address our national debt.  We do have to tackle our national debt so that’s a real debate that we can always address.  Granted, Republicans and Democrats almost completely disagree on how to address it, but it’s still a logical debate to have.

But whether or not to raise the debt ceiling isn’t a debate! 

Here’s the official description from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.

It “does not authorize new spending commitments.”

This is something every single Republican in Congress knows.  So when they sit there and repeat their worn out propaganda (which is exactly what it is – blatant propaganda) about raising the debt ceiling is tantamount to “giving the president a blank check,” they’re flat-out lying.

The debt ceiling is simply a procedural vote that allows the United States government to pay money that it’s already agreed to pay. 

Also known as money we’ve already approved to spend in various spending bills passed by Congress.  Again, it has nothing to do with new spending.  


This isn’t a complicated situation, because again – there is no debate.

Republicans can lie about it all day, while Fox News and other right-wing media outlets support their propaganda – but that doesn’t change the reality of what raising the debt ceiling means.

And let’s not forget that Republicans did it seven times during Bush’s eight years.  Amazing how they didn’t seem to mind doing it nearly every year when a Republican controlled the White House.

So, once again, the debt ceiling is not about new spending.  It’s not about “handing over a blank check to the president.”  All it does is allow the government to pay its bills on money we’ve already agreed to spend.

That’s it.  No debate.  No spin.  No partisan politics.

The End.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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