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Majority supports raising debt ceiling

Rochester Business Journal
February 14, 2014

More than two-thirds of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll said Congress should raise the federal government’s debt ceiling, but nearly one-third of those said lawmakers should do so only if they offset the increase with future spending cuts.

A temporary suspension of the nation’s debt limit ended last Friday. On Tuesday, the House voted 221-201 to lift the debt ceiling until March 2015, removing the threat of a default. The bill was supported by 193 Democrats and 28 Republicans. On Wednesday, it passed the Senate 55-43.

This was the fourth time since 2010 that the U.S. government hit the debt ceiling, which now stands around $17 trillion. The limit was temporarily suspended as part of the budget deal Congress passed last fall.

As before, the Treasury was able to use “extraordinary measures” to buy extra time, but Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that because of tax-season outflows, the nation could be forced to default on some debts by the end of February. Noting that the issue was whether to pay bills Congress already had incurred, he urged lawmakers to act, saying “simply delaying action on the debt limit can cause harm to our economy, rattle financial markets and hurt taxpayers.”

Roughly 600 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Feb. 10 and 11.

In your view, should Congress raise the federal government’s debt ceiling?
Yes, it should raise the debt ceiling: 36%
No, it should not raise the debt ceiling: 32%
It should raise the debt ceiling only if offset by future spending cuts: 32%

Among Democrats:
Yes, it should raise the debt ceiling: 94%
No, it should not raise the debt ceiling: 14%
It should raise the debt ceiling only if offset by future spending cuts: 12%

Among Republicans:
Yes, it should raise the debt ceiling: 15%
No, it should not raise the debt ceiling: 41%
It should raise the debt ceiling only if offset by future spending cuts: 44%

Among those who identified themselves as other or nonaffiliated:
Yes, it should raise the debt ceiling: 33%
No, it should not raise the debt ceiling: 35%
It should raise the debt ceiling only if offset by future spending cuts: 32%

What is your political affiliation?
Democrat: 21%
Republican: 37%
Non-affiliated: 35%
Other: 8%

I am frankly tired of this dialogue. This Congress and president are making a mockery of our Constitution, and thus our country. The spending has to stop, budget cuts have to be made and priorities need to be established. Everyone needs to take some ownership of these important issues because it will (should) affect everyone. I have no respect for our leaders (so-called)—they are embarrassing. As everyone has repeatedly stated, if my credit card is maxed out—I need to get spending under control before I spend again. Why is this so difficult to understand and implement? Please everyone remember this at election time!
—Gary M. Baker, president, Cochran, Cochran & Yale

Congress just passed a bipartisan budget that will increase the national debt. How hypocritical is it to now not pay for that budget and threaten the financial security of the United States? The budget deficit has gone down more dramatically than expected and frankly is not the core economic issue facing our country. Congress needs to raise the debt limit and work with the president to pass meaningful legislation which will help create an environment of good-paying jobs and invest in our infrastructure so the consumer will have funds to spend and allow the economic recovery to continue. We need an economically healthy middle class to drive this economic engine.
—Michael L. Harf

Are we in this financial predicament because we’re taxed too little, or because we’ve spent too much? We have to get our financial house in order. We need to cut all discretionary spending. The rate of growth of our spending needs to be capped. A $17 trillion debt is a bit much. To paraphrase Everett Dirksen: “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services P.C.

Stop the madness! What’s the point of having a debt ceiling if the kleptocrats just vote to raise it every time they run out of money to buy votes with? “The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own.” —John Adams, first address to Congress, Nov. 23, 1797
—John B. Woodman, Pittsford

It’s insulting that you’d even ask this question. (Not) raising the debt ceiling is not an option. The country has already committed to this spending; if we do not raise the debt ceiling, and thus default on these payments, the country’s credit rating will be shot. That should never, ever be an option.
—Matthew D. Wilson

The way things have been going, why even have a debt limit?
—Daniel Mossien, architect

The debt ceiling should be raised. Spending and tax reform should be addressed. The problem continues that Congress will not address a “grand bargain” and get both things done. Disgusting.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin, Phinney Rankin Inc.

We must continue (to push) for spending cuts for non-essential projects. Our economy needs us all to stand our ground to return to fiscal responsibility. Even if it requires sacrifice in us all, to spend less, recycle, save, and think of what is (at) stake here. I rest my case.
—Theodore J. Voll Jr.

The spending cuts must not come from programs that support the poor. Congress must find ways to encourage able-bodied people to work. Future cuts must come from reduced federal pension programs. Federal and state pensions are out of alignment with the private-sector pensions. In New York State, all pensions should be exempt from state income taxes or none should be exempt. Federal and state pensions are out of control.
—Doug Dobson

We’ve spent the money; now we need to pay our bill. Congress needs to turn their process around and reduce spending on the front end, not waste time and credibility threatening default as our payments come due.
—Art Maurer, Penfield

No federal budget should ever be passed ever again without the borrowing capacity to cover itself.
—Jim Haefner, Pittsford

Our government is so dysfunctional at this time it hardly matters what the politicians do. Cut debt, cut expenses, etc.? There is no such thing. They have to start at the top and work their way down the line; we have a fat-cat system that has primarily achieved widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. Ultimately the country will suffer again as we have since the sequester of 2013—what a joke! By the time the American public can vote politicians out of office, the damage will be done once again. If the government was a business, it would have held a liquidation “everything-must-go” sale a long time ago along with all the other businesses that have failed over the last decade. A pitiful state of the union, in my personal opinion.
—L.S. Decker, MVP Health Care

I am all for meaningful budget talks, but once the budget is passed, Congress has to increase the debt ceiling used to pay for what they approved. Congress can’t say yes to spending and no to paying the resultant bills when they come due.
—Deb Oppenheimer

With a fiat currency, this debate on “debt” every few months—with the potential to cripple our economy—is purely political. This fiscal cliff term is just to create a false urgency. The U.S. federal government is not a household, city government or state government, nor is it a country like Greece without sovereign currency.
—Eric Bourgeois

Congress approved the spending; now they should pay their bills. In fact, the debt ceiling increase shouldn’t even be up for approval/discussion. It should be automatic with few exceptions. It’s a little ironic that the same team that allowed two unfunded wars to move forward and Medicare Part D to pass without funding it now says we can’t have debt limit increases without reducing our debt. Let’s get real.
—Peter Bonenfant

If Congress approves a budget that runs a deficit, why do they need separate legislation to raise their borrowing? They don’t! This is another example of how politicians clog up the works to no one’s benefit.
—John Calia, Vistage International

We need spending cuts to stay under the current debt ceiling.
—Terry Palis, Corporate Communications

By all means, Congress should. Congress should do everything it can to triple its approval rating which, according to Gallup information, would make it almost 36 percent.
—Jay Birnbaum

No, no, no. What the country needs is a comprehensive budget that doesn’t continue to add yearly baseline additions. We need to stop spending without reviewing programs that don’t work anymore. The current program—add spending now, then offset by future spending cuts that never happen—needs to end.
—Dan Zarpentine

Fire them all, and let’s start over!
—Alan Baker, Henrietta

No, Congress should let the country go bankrupt. Then they should pay the economic impact of this out of their own pockets, since all of them are millionaires and they’re financed by billionaires; this should be no problem for them. They can also get their billionaire friends to chip in and get the country out of debt.
Of course they should raise the debt ceiling. The country’s economy is finally growing, which holds out the hope that we might decrease that debt as tax revenues increase—unless, of course, there are some moneyed interests who wish to hold the country on the brink of economic collapse for their own reasons, like depressing worker pay and increasing fear and doubt, and placing minorities at a disadvantage. But that would never happen, right? This constant “hold-the-country-hostage/kick-the-can-down-the-road” stuff has to end.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed Inc.

Not only should Congress not raise the debt ceiling, they should lower it. Lower it with a plan to incrementally lower it biannually. Create a budget with a ceiling that absolutely cannot be violated without penalty. Criminal penalty. The goal would be to operate within a balanced budget while decreasing the tax burden every year. Washington has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of the United States. Particularly the taxpayer whose money they squander. If they were in the private sector, they would be out of work or in prison. Our government has evolved into a club of members who delight on collecting and spending other people’s money while creating rules and regulations that inhibit the freedom and pursuit of happiness for hardworking, taxpaying citizens. Where are the voters with a stake in all this? The taxpayers? You're letting our government to be run by socialists that are creating and sustaining an underclass dependent on tax dollars, your tax dollars. The vote is the solution to the travesty that is our government. Romney vs. Obama? Where would we be today? Think about that for a minute. “Oblunder” cried for five years about what Bush left him—who's going to fix the Oblunder’s mess? The solution is simple, decrease the size of government, decrease social programs, decrease federal politician staffs and offices, promote USA energy production, personal responsibility, and the debt will decrease proportionately. Review your options and vote this November and the next and the next. It's your money, make your vote be heard.
—Lou Romano

Government raising its debt limit is comparable to an individual raising their credit limit. Both will claim they will not exceed the “limit” but both will want to raise it again rather than refrain from spending. Unfortunately every time the “limit” is raised, the amount of interest on the debt increases. Fortunately for the individual the lending institutions evaluate the ability of the individual to repay their debt and more often than not refuse to increase that credit limit. Government on the other hand has a congress that should do as the banks do, unfortunately congress simply increases our debt regardless of our ability to repay what we owe.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party

The trustees for Social Security and Medicare have stated these government programs are unsustainable. Besides a $17.3 trillion national debt, there reportedly are contingent future entitlements, which total almost $100 trillion. Now we have Obamacare, which is another financial debacle. It’s time to halt the increase to the debt ceiling. Reportedly our debt service obligations are $20 billion monthly. The $180 billion monthly receipts will easily cover this. Cut back and layoff nonessential government employees in the federal government in the Departments of Energy, Education, Commerce, etc. to reduce the expenses. Also, tax decreases will spur economic activity and ultimately will increase tax revenues.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.

2/14/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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