- Thursday, May 25, 2023

The ongoing argument over raising the limit on America’s credit card has revealed a gigantic gulf between people in the real world and Democrats and their allies in the media. According to polling, a sizable majority of the country thinks that increasing the nation’s debt limit ought to be accompanied by spending cuts, but that hasn’t stopped leftists from going nuts as they usually do.

As a deadline publicized by the Treasury Department approaches for increasing America’s ability to borrow money, we’re hearing again the familiar warnings of economic calamity should we run out of cash and fail to pay our outstanding debts. Fair enough. No one truly knows what would happen, because it’s never occurred, but let’s assume it would be bad.

Throughout our history, the debt ceiling has been raised dozens of times, often with certain policy priorities attached to the legislation. But this time, Democrats and their media friends are howling that an attempt to control spending is outrageous.

Let’s underscore that: Democrats want to increase our ability to borrow money because it’s the only way we can pay our bills, but they want no part of a conversation about reducing the spending that got us here.

And they want praise for being the sensible ones?

No one would (or should, anyway) recommend that any business or household be run like that. Without question, quick bankruptcy awaits any company that racks up endless debt without finding a way to control costs. Financial ruin is a sure thing for any family that continues to extend itself on credit cards without trying to constrain its monthly expenditures to what it brings in.

It ought to be obvious to anyone without ideological blinders on.

This is common sense that’s shared by a significant majority of Americans, according to CNN’s latest poll on the subject. A whopping 60% agree that the debt ceiling should be raised only if Congress cuts federal spending at the same time. Less than one-quarter — 24% — say the debt ceiling should go up even if spending is not cut.

For any issue, in polling terms, that is considered a massive blowout.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy scored a major victory in this important policy struggle in April, when he shepherded the passage of a bill that raises the debt ceiling but incorporates a lot of the spending controls Americans agree with. It has received no action in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, while President Biden refused to even negotiate for over 100 days.

And the White House was crystal clear about their position.

On Jan. 13, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We will not be doing any negotiation over the debt ceiling.”

On Feb. 28, Mr. Biden himself said, “I will not negotiate whether America pays its debt.”

On May 12, Ms. Jean-Pierre reiterated, in case someone missed it the first time: “We are not going to negotiate over the debt limit.”

Incredibly, this purposeful obstinacy was somehow overlooked by Politico, which reported that Mr. Biden “has prioritized deal-making through much of the debt ceiling talks” and that he is “laboring to work across the aisle.”

Other Biden allies in the left-leaning media have been fast to join the wrong side of public sentiment on the issue in order to back the president.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo tweeted that Republican tactics were “nihilism and hostage taking on the nation’s finances.”

John Harwood, who thankfully is not a working journalist anymore, tweeted that a potential debt default is “a crisis created out of thin air by the House Republican caucus.”

(At this point, it’s appropriate to pause and question why Mr. Harwood, an unabashed leftist and disseminator of Democratic talking points, was ever permitted to moderate a Republican presidential primary debate, as he did in 2015.)

Over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow’s producer Steve Benen weighed in Tuesday with a column in which he decried any “both sides” discussion of the debate, indicating that he believes Democrats are wholly blameless.

When liberals complain about anyone presenting “both sides” of an issue, it means they want only one opinion to be permitted. It’s another of their attempts to squelch conservative voices.

What’s amusing in this case is that Mr. Benen, who holds the opinion shared by fewer than 1 in 4 Americans, wants the opinion held by 6 in 10 to be the one that’s silenced.

And what’s clear is that on the debt limit fight, most Americans believe the Republican approach is best, but Democrats and some in the media are having a hard time getting the message.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and vice president for communication strategy at National Public Affairs, a political consulting firm.

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