After U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took a nap on Thursday, focus shifted from the fight over Obamacare to the fight over the debt ceiling. The United States hits its borrowing capacity in a few weeks, and if this is not raised the nation will default on its debt. President Obama says he will not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling. Republicans should test his resolve.
Those on Obama’s side say the United States never had a debt ceiling until 1917, and the political creation should be tossed aside. Fine, as long as we go back to the situation that existed before 1917: Congress had to approve all borrowing.
Advocates of an imperial executive mock the debt ceiling by saying that other developed nations don’t have one. They don’t have our combination of a federated government and a Bill of Rights, either. In the United States, the people restrain the state, not the other way around. The debt ceiling is a small check on the growth of the state — unless we ignore it, which we should not.
Republicans, though, should be careful to remain focused. The whole point of the debt ceiling is to keep borrowing and spending in check. Using it to press for a laundry list of pet issues unrelated to that goal is unwise. If Republicans use this opportunity to focus the nation’s and the President’s attention on our unsustainable spending and borrowing, it is a fight they can win and the American people should welcome.