Is Sen. McConnell right to block debt ceiling increase?


Fact Box

  • Two years ago, Congress suspended the debt ceiling or limit on federal borrowing to $28.5 trillion, but it expires on July 31, 2021. 
  • Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, said Tuesday, July 20, 2021, “I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now—

this free-for-all for taxes and spending—to vote to raise the debt limit.”

  • On Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the Congressional Budget Office said the Treasury might run out of cash by October or November, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen projected even sooner. 
  • In response, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized McConnell’s ideas as “shameless, cynical, and total political” keeping former President Trump’s spending and COVID relief in mind.
  • Out of all presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama contributed most to the national debt, with FDR reigning at $236 billion, a 1,050% increase in that time frame.

Andrew (No)

When our elected leaders play politics with necessary government functions, all Americans lose. As it goes, Senator McConnell is doing just that and is wrong to block this debt ceiling increase. As the economy is sputtering back to life after a year in which many sectors suffered, now is not the time to try to score points with conservatives by blocking necessary spending increases. This action is tantamount to holding the economy hostage. According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the government could go into default by the end of the summer. Further, blocking this spending increase will likely lead to a standoff over a potential government shutdown, increasing voter frustration with both parties and creating uncertainty that may affect financial markets.

It's particularly ironic and shameful that McConnell and his fellow Republicans are not willing to increase the debt ceiling since they are precisely to blame for increasing the debt under the Trump presidency. As Senator Schumer rightly pointed out, 'this debt is Trump debt,' referring to the Republican debt ceiling increases, which were compounded by the Trump tax cuts. In other words, Republicans increased spending under President Trump and reduced revenue, hardly the actions of a fiscally responsible party. As if these factors weren't bad enough, the Republican inaction, spearheaded by President Trump at the beginning of the pandemic, allowed it so quickly to get out of control, resulting in the need to shut down major sectors of the economy. Now that the bill has come due for his party's actions, Senator McConnell is unwilling to pay up.


Stephanie (Yes)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his party are absolutely right to block the debt ceiling increase and ask for reduced government spending. The United States is already in debt of over $28 trillion, and it is expected to increase by $3 trillion this year alone. Just as with personal loans, when credit limits are increased and utilized, it just makes them that much more difficult to pay off in the end, so raising the debt ceiling is certainly not the answer.

While we certainly have a debt problem, Republican leaders have rightfully referred to it as a 'spending problem.' McConnell cited the 'free-for-all taxes and spending' that many Democrats are for, which plunges the nation further into debt. Although the economy is in a uniquely dire position, due to pandemic-related lockdowns, stimulus checks, and unemployment payments, it could potentially return to a more 'normal' state with an increased number of Americans returning to work as local economies opening up again paired with decreased government spending. 

Oddly enough, those in favor of the debt increase seemingly believe that it will be beneficial to the country, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claiming that not suspending or raising the debt limit will cause 'irreparable harm to the US economy.' However, increasing the debt ceiling will cause inflation, placing a financial burden on American families, 'especially those on low and fixed incomes.' This is not a factor to take lightly, considering this year is expected to have the highest inflation rate since 1981. Despite Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's claim that McConnell is 'playing Russian roulette with this economy,' raising the debt ceiling sentences it to an even more tragic and expensive demise that will force our nation's future generations to cover.

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