Debt ceiling is no big deal — right?
Americans have been told the end is near. If the mean old Republicans don’t approve raising the debt ceiling above $16.9 trillion we’re doomed!
Well, I guess the 1953 Congress didn’t feel the same urgency when then President Dwight David Eisenhower asked Congress to approve the raising of the debt ceiling.
“The Treasury will soon borrow and additional 1-1/2 to 2 billion dollars, pushing the national debt as close to the 275 billion dollar legal limit as it dares approach,” said an Associated Press story that was published in the first week of October 1953 in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch.
Just like today, the Treasury and the administration were warning Congress that there would be dire consequences. “...a Treasury spokesman who also said the new borrowing must be got out of the way by the end of this month (Octobrer) or early November to make way for refinancing on Dec. 1 of a 10 1/2 billion dollar maturing issue.”
There was a sense of urgency in 1953, some 60 years ago. However, folks serving the people in Congress back in ‘53 had more brass than those in panic mode today in Washington, D.C.
“Just before it recessed, Congress turned down appeals by President Eisenhower and Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey to give the government more borrowing leeway by raising the debt limit to 290 billion dollars. The debt subject to the legal ceiling is now $272,400,000,000.”
That’s hardly worth turning on the lights at the White House by today’s standards.
As of Sept. 24 the nation’s debt was $16,950,988,753,940 and counting.
What happens if this Congress decides to recess without passing either a continuing resolution (which would delay the process until Oct. 18) or vote against raising the debt ceiling? I guess if this Congress has the brass that the Congress in 1953, we’ll survive.
Spending at the present level would amount to $3.5 trillion a year. Revenues are at $2.6 trillion a year. Our deficit would be approximately $826 billion a year.
Perhaps what the Congress was telling Ike in ‘53 was — live within the current limits. Maybe that’s the message this Congress needs to give President Obama.