Chris Smith: Why I voted against the debt ceiling extension

Against the backdrop of President Biden’s demand that Congress immediately pass an unprecedented  $3.5 trillion tax and spend budget package that constitutes  the largest tax hike since 1968 and massive new unsustainable debt, the House votes today to extend the debt ceiling until December 3rd.

I will vote no.

One analysis shows that Biden’s budget—championed by Senator Bernie Sanders—could cost up to $5.5 trillion after accounting for several budget gimmicks that artificially lower the price tag.

Despite the fact that approximately $1.3 trillion of previously  appropriated  COVID funds remain either unobligated (about $800 billion) or obligated but unspent (about $500 billion)—sitting idle in the government coffers—the Biden administration is demanding more power to borrow. 

There has also been a serious lack of transparency as to how COVID funds are spent.

In a July report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—the federal government’s “watchdog agency”—recommended “that Health and Human Services (HHS) improve transparency over tens of billions of dollars in unspent relief funds.”

The GAO also recommended that “the Office of Management and Budget and Department of Treasury issue timely guidance for audits of hundreds of billions in state and local COVID relief funds.”

Nothing but political will—and a genuine commitment to responsible governance and spending within our means—precludes redirecting some or all of the $1.3 trillion unobligated and unspent COVID funds to mitigate the debt, instead of new borrowing.

There was a time when then Senator Biden was concerned with the detrimental impact of debt on the economy and on those—our children and grandchildren—who will someday pay a huge price for today’s profligate government spending and the borrowing needed to sustain it. 

In a Senate speech in 2004, then Senator Biden opposed raising the debt ceiling and condemned the “threat of massive deficits” and said, “the bill for our decisions will be sent to our children and grandchildren, in the form of the additional debt we authorize today.”

In 2006, Biden said: “…I am voting against the debt limit increase…the tsunami of debt created by the policies of this administration (George W. Bush) has to go somewhere…But as the rest of the world copes with the waves of U.S. debt, we are now all in the same leaky boat.  There is just so much of our debt other nations want to hold…We need both more awareness, and more understanding, of this fundamental threat to our economic well being and the global economy.”

Today, with our national debt far worse than ever—it was 8.5 trillion in 2006, today it’s $28.4 trillion—the  President ought to heed his own words.

Chris Smith
About Chris Smith 14 Articles
CHRIS SMITH serves New Jersey's 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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