Once again, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his fellow Republicans are proving just how disconnected they are from the rest of America by threatening to vote against raising the debt limit unless trillions of dollars are cut from the federal budget—including cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
For months, Republicans in Congress have been calling for an “adult conversation” about getting our fiscal house in order before raising the debt limit by cutting spending for services that serve the poor and middle class while insisting that tax increases of any kind are off the table. But raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with controlling future spending. Rather, it’s a matter of paying bills that we have already incurred or are in the process of incurring.
The United States has never defaulted on its debt. If Congress fails to raise the debt limit, the damage will ripple across the entire economy and rock global markets in the process. A federal default will hurt American workers and jeopardize our country’s ability to recover from the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. A default will also weaken Americans' confidence in their government at a time when many believe that they will never achieve the American dream of working for decent wages and benefits, owning a home, sending their children to college or retiring comfortably.
If our lawmakers are really interested in long-term fiscal responsibility, they must address their differences quickly and raise the debt limit. Speaker Boehner and his fellow Republicans need to have an adult conversation right now and act responsibly.