Other veiws: Chamber says to raise the debt limitNo less than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this month advised Republicans in Congress to quit playing ideological games and get about the vital business of raising the nation’s debt ceiling, the legal limit on how much the U.S. government can borrow. The deadline to avoid at least a partial default is Aug. 2, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
By: The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, The Jamestown Sun
No less than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this month advised Republicans in Congress to quit playing ideological games and get about the vital business of raising the nation’s debt ceiling, the legal limit on how much the U.S. government can borrow. The deadline to avoid at least a partial default is Aug. 2, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
The chamber, which was among the top outside spenders during last year’s congressional elections, has been a reliable ally of Republicans for years. Chamber support helped propel dozens of Republican candidates to victory last year, which resulted in a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives. The locus of playing Russian roulette with the debt limit is in the House, specifically among so-called tea party Republicans, many of whom had the chamber in their corners.
The chamber is the nation’s premier advocacy organization for business and trade interests. Among its members are some of the largest financial institutions, industries and other businesses in the nation. The chamber’s business members understand what a U.S. default would mean, not only to market confidence, but also to interest rates and investments. It is no surprise, therefore, that the chamber is directing an unambiguous message to intransigent Republican members of Congress.
The chamber’s position is clear. President Tom Donohue told MSNBC, “We absolutely support expansion of the (U.S.) debt.” R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs, urged lawmakers to raise the debt limit “expeditiously.” In June, Donohue was joking (or was he?) when he told representatives who were threatening not to raise the debt limit, “We’ll get rid of you.”
The chamber’s stance resonates in North Dakota because freshman Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., was one of many candidates who got a boost from the chamber’s ads during the 2010 campaign against Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D. Berg is in the camp that is holding the debt ceiling hostage unless raising the limit is accompanied by substantial spending cuts.
The chamber’s position seems to line up more with balanced proposals, mostly from the U.S. Senate, that combine doable spending reductions and tax code reforms with raising the debt limit. The bipartisan Gang of Six (now eight), for example, has a plan that focuses on the nation’s long-term debt, not exclusively on raising the debt limit.
That being said, the immediate threat to the nation’s economy is the prospect of partial default if the debt limit is not raised before Aug. 2. Financial markets, the business community as represented by the national chamber, the banking sector, trade experts and others who understand the stakes, view the ideological stubbornness of House (and some Senate) Republicans as irresponsible. The obstructionists are all too willing to sacrifice the nation’s economic well-being on the altar of their misguided beliefs.