It’s artificial crisis time again: you must decide whether to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Congress, according to the latest Gallup Poll[i], has a current approval rating of 16% and a disapproval rating of 79%. When nearly five times as many people think you are doing a bad job as think you are doing a good job, I suggest it is time to change how you operate—and the debt ceiling gives you a perfect opportunity to begin to change perceptions.
Very few, if any, of you 535 officeholders want the U.S. Government to default on its obligations—obligations which you and your predecessors have committed the American people to pay based on the cumulative effect of prior spending and revenue bills.
Therefore, as a group you will vote to raise the ceiling. Historically, one side or both have held the other “hostage” in a game of chicken to try to score a political gain they don’t think they can accomplish in the normal course of doing Congressional business.
I ask each of you to commit to supporting a clean debt limit increase. Do what is necessary so bond holders, government employees, government contractors, and individuals receiving any type of governmental benefit do not worry about being paid on time and in full.
Should you do this because one voting citizen writes an open letter to you? No, you should do it because it is not only in the best interest of the United States of America, it is in your collective best interest, Republican, Democrat or Independent.
Republicans: You have a great number of changes you want to make in how the U.S. functions. You want to reform taxes, increase infrastructure spending, modify healthcare and other social programs, and much more. If you all approve a clean debt ceiling increase, you can spend your time crafting laws to implement those changes. Yes, many of you are concerned about the continual steep increase in our national debt and want to attach provisions to the debt limit increase to slow or stop that rise. Hold that debate as part of the budgeting process where it belongs. Show that as the party that controls all three branches of government you can actually govern.
Democrats: You can demonstrate to voters that you are not the party of politics as usual: the minority party of “no.” Take the lead by making a 100% commitment to vote for a clean debt ceiling increase. Let the Republicans fight among themselves, if they choose, about what else should be attached to raising the debt ceiling. You have made it clear to the public that you are mature adults looking out for the best interests of the entire country. Introduce your bill to cleanly raise the debt ceiling on your first day back to work. Should the Republicans not support it, spend the time generating specific bills to improve the parts of Obamacare that must be fixed.
Independents: In theory, you are not mixed in the fractious party politics. Prove it. Commit to a clean debt ceiling rise.
Pledge your support of a clean debt limit increase, and let’s move on to debating the important issues that face our country.
James M. Jackson