Raise the Roof: Congress delays the inevitable

Madelyn Woodard, Opinion Editor

The debt ceiling has been lifted, but my faith in the government remains low. The debt ceiling is nothing new, but it is a prime example of just how ineffective the United States government is. Although nothing will top the comedy-gold, grade-A catastrophe that was the Speaker of the House election, this whole debt ceiling conundrum definitely comes close.
Every once in a while, Congress has to decide whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. For a couple weeks, everyone loses their mind trying to figure out what’s going to happen, but the answer is typically “nothing.”
In recent weeks, you may have heard a lot about the debt ceiling — a limit Congress puts on how much outstanding debt the federal government can have before they default. If we were to default, the U.S. would no longer accept new loans until we have paid off some of our debt. This would almost definitely mean an economic recession and wreck the international economy because it relies on each country owing money to every other country. It could also lead to the government falling behind on payments towards important programs like Social Security, Veterans Benefits and Medicare. The U.S. has never defaulted, which is a good thing and a streak we hope to keep up.
So what should the government do about their debt? To the public, the answer to this question is simple: pay off the debt in small chunks, just like you would with a credit card or a student loan. But, the issue is that the solution that would get the government out of debt would hurt the public, and the best way to keep the economy afloat is to keep racking up debt.
The reason the debt ceiling takes so long to be raised is because Republicans use their votes in this matter as leverage to get Democrats to cut social safety nets. Republicans using the debt ceiling to hold the government hostage is hardly new, and is something they make no attempt to hide. A big part of why this has been so effective is the tremendous amount of concessions Kevin McCarthy had to make in order to become Speaker of the House. These compromises made him virtually powerless and totally at the whim of the extremists who have him in a headlock of his own design.
For now, it looks like everything is going to be exactly the same as it was. That is until early June, when the extreme measures to pay off debt will likely not be enough to keep the U.S. from making the same decision yet again.
What I find most mind-boggling about this situation is the solutions that have been proposed, some of which are straight-up bonkers. My personal favorite is the collectible coin idea. A law passed in the 90’s allows for the Treasury Department to mint a coin for essentially however much money they want, even a trillion dollars. The Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has labeled this as a “gimmick,” leading many to question the validity of this law as a whole. Many people have been using the 14th Amendment as evidence that the debt ceiling itself should be abolished. There are several other loopholes and workarounds that have been thrown around, but most politicians agree that the only way out is through.
If none of this article made sense to you, that’s okay! Here’s the bottom line: the Democrats and Republicans are using our government as stakes in the ultimate petty power struggle, refusing to let the other side “win” even if it means the nation crumbles. The most frustrating part is that their ideas are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they aren’t all that different at all, and the only reason this is such an ordeal every time is because neither side actually cares about the good of the people and just wants to stick it to the other.