Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

The right answer and the wrong answer when it comes to more borrowing

Within today's Jolt from the Political Insider team, there's a contrast between two Georgia members of the House Freedom Caucus that has held up the election of a new speaker: Reps. Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk. Part of the contrast concerns the speaker's race -- Hice still backs Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., for the job while Loudermilk said he isn't backing Webster and won't necessarily vote with the caucus on that matter.

The other main point of contention between the two concerns the debt ceiling, and as far as I'm concerned their positions make clear which one understands the reality of how things work in Washington and which one still hasn't figured it out.

The one who hasn't figured it out is Hice, whose position was captured in a recent, brief profile by the New York Times:

"In an interview later, (Hice) also said he would not vote to raise the debt ceiling, no matter the economic consequences. 'Where does the insanity stop?' he asked. 'We have got to cut spending and live within our means.' "

Let me answer the congressman's question very directly: The "insanity" stops with pretending the time for opposing the debt ceiling is after spending bills have been approved. Here, Loudermilk gets it right ( from the Jolt ):

"Here's what Loudermilk told reporters about the debt ceiling Oct. 9:

"'We have to raise the debt ceiling. I use the analogy: If I loan my son my credit card and he ran it up, I'm still obligated to pay for it. Previous Congresses are the ones who have run up the debt. We're going to have to pay for it.' "

That's exactly right. The time for "cut(ting) spending and liv(ing) within our means" is when the spending measures are being passed -- not when the bills for those bills come due. If you're saying something other than that, you're not being straight with people about the issue.

It's not as if there aren't other ways to go about this. I have suggested a few in the past: Include a proportional debt-ceiling increase with each spending bill; even better,  reflect priorities by passing some spending bills without an increase and others with the increase necessary to fund them. Either way would increase pressure on Congress to be more frugal -- and it would be done at the time the spending was being approved, rather than waiting until the bill came due as is done now.

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.