The Week: Most Recent Congress:The National Debt recent posts.en-usTue, 15 Jan 2013 06:13:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Congress:The National Debt from THE WEEKTue, 15 Jan 2013 06:13:00 -0500Why a government shutdown would help the GOP<img src="" /></P><p>Now that we've moved past the tax portion of our never-ending series of fiscal cliffs, we're heading to the spending portion. Or at least that's what most of us thought after Barack Obama largely won the tax debate and got rates increased for those making more than $400,000 a year, along with a permanent Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch that protects the middle class from the LBJ-era equivalent of the Buffett Rule. But in a rare press conference marking the upcoming end of Obama's first term in office, the president insisted on Monday that he would refuse to agree to any deficit solution that...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/edward-morrissey" ><span class="byline">Edward Morrissey</span></a>Tue, 15 Jan 2013 06:13:00 -0500Is the U.S. headed for another debt downgrade?<img src="" /></P><p>The cloud over the federal government's credit rating grew darker this week, as the Fitch agency warned that it would downgrade America's coveted AAA rating unless Congress comes up with a "credible plan" to shrink its ballooning budget deficits. Fitch revised its outlook on the federal government's creditworthiness from "stable" to "negative" after a congressional super committee failed to meet its goal of reducing the spending gap by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Another of the big three ratings agencies, Standard &amp; Poor's, already downgraded Treasury bonds this summer, rattling financial...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 30 Nov 2011 13:11:00 -0500Why isn't Paul Ryan on the debt super committee?<img src="" /></P><p>Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House budget committee, was widely expected to be appointed to the powerful bipartisan panel charged with slashing $1.5 trillion from the next decade's federal deficits. But Ryan wasn't one of the three lawmakers Speaker John Boehner picked to represent House Republicans&nbsp;on the 12-person panel.&nbsp;Why will Ryan be sidelined as the "super committee" tries to develop its plan by Nov. 23? Here are four theories:<br /><br /><strong></strong><strong>1. Ryan has bigger problems to address</strong><br />The Wisconsin Republican didn't get passed over &mdash; he asked Boehner to leave him off the super...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 12 Aug 2011 16:41:00 -0400Congress' 'troubling' super committee picks: 5 talking points<img src="" /></P><p>Washington's last-minute deal to raise the U.S. debt limit earlier this month also created a powerful "super committee" of 12 legislators charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions by this fall. If they fail, automatic across-the-board spending cuts kick in. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his three committee members: Sens. John Kerry (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.), and Max Baucus (Mont.). On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unveiled their picks: Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Pat Toomey (Pa....</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 11 Aug 2011 09:35:00 -0400Should America's AAA credit rating be restored?<img src="" /></P><p>On Monday, President Obama responded to the unprecedented Standard &amp; Poor's downgrade of America's sovereign credit rating to AA+, arguing that "no matter what a ratings agency says, we will always be a AAA country." The U.S. needs to tackle its ballooning deficits, but that's a problem that is "eminently solvable," Obama said. Despite the downgrade, investors still seem to view U.S. Treasuries as the safest investment around, and the other two major ratings agencies &mdash; Fitch and Moody's &mdash; are keeping the U.S. at AAA for now. Meanwhile, S&amp;P continues to defend its much-maligned...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 09 Aug 2011 09:36:00 -0400The U.S. credit downgrade: 4 predictions<img src="" /></P><p>Stocks dropped sharply in the U.S. and around the world on Monday, as investors reacted to the news that Standard and Poor's had stripped the federal government of its top-notch AAA credit rating for the first time in history. In a "remarkably blunt" statement explaining the unprecedented downgrade to AA+, the ratings agency said it no longer considers U.S. Treasury bonds to be an essentially risk-free investment because Washington is running up mounting deficits with no real plan to reduce them. What ramifications can we expect from the downgrade? Here, four predictions:<br /><br /><strong>1.The economy will plunge...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 08 Aug 2011 14:51:00 -0400The U.S. credit downgrade: Who's to blame?<img src="" /></P><p>Standard and Poor's controversial announcement on Friday that it would downgrade the U.S. government's credit rating &mdash; from AAA to AA+ &mdash;&nbsp;shook up global financial markets. As soon as American markets opened Monday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 200 points. And predictably, the first credit downgrade in U.S. history ignited a heated blame game in Washington. S&amp;P said it lowered the rating because Congress and the White House had failed to come up with a credible plan to get the national debt under control. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) branded the move...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 08 Aug 2011 09:38:00 -0400How badly did the debt fight damage America's image abroad?<img src="" /></P><p>Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, disgusted by Washington's rancorous battle over the debt crisis, says the U.S. is living beyond its means, "like a parasite" on the global economy. Other nations are also gloating. The state-controlled <em>Xinhua</em> newspaper in China, which owns a fortune in U.S. bonds and currency, called Congress's flirtation with default "dangerously irresponsible." Did the fight over the debt ceiling do irreparable harm to America's global economic leadership?<br /><br /><strong>The U.S. is now a laughingstock:</strong> "The United States has made a fool of itself," says Philip Bowring at <em>The Jakarta Globe...</em></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 04 Aug 2011 15:56:00 -0400The next debt fight: Will the GOP cave on taxes to prevent defense cuts?<img src="" /></P><p>Under the debt deal signed into law this week, automatic across-the-board spending cuts &mdash; including $500 billion slashed from the Defense Department &mdash; will be triggered if a bipartisan "super committee" can't agree this fall on a plan to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit. The Democrats' great hope going into this autumn's talks: That Republicans, presumably anxious to preserve the military budget, may accept tax increases as part of that deficit-reduction plan, even though they've refused to budge on taxes to date. A key factor: A growing schism among Republicans. Will the GOP's...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 04 Aug 2011 10:33:00 -0400The debt deal's biggest losers<img src="" /></P><p>Here at,&nbsp;Ed Morrissey challenged Tea Party Republicans to recognize that they won the debt-ceiling standoff. He's right, too. But if some win, others must lose. Can we identify the losers? I see three.</p><p>The first and most obvious loser: National security.</p><p>The economist Herb Stein used to advocate a simple model of federal budgeting:</p><p>a) Decide how much it costs to defend the country.</p><p>b) Pay for it.</p><p>c) Then see what else you can afford.</p><p>Adam Smith phrased the same idea more elegantly by saying that "defense is superior to opulence." The point is that the defense of the nation...</p> <a href="">More</a>By <a href="/author/david-frum" ><span class="byline">David Frum</span></a>Wed, 03 Aug 2011 16:16:00 -0400The debt deal: Who will win Round 2?<img src="" /></P><p>Even before President Obama signed the debt-ceiling deal into law on Tuesday, leading Democrats and Republicans started preparing for the next budget battle &mdash; picking members of the "super committee" that will spend this fall deciding how to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years. The White House says Democratic committee members will propose shrinking deficits with both spending cuts and new revenue from tax reform, while Republicans will insist on keeping the discussion focused on spending cuts alone. If the super committee fails to draft a bi-partisan plan, or if Congress...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 03 Aug 2011 14:03:00 -0400Debt deal: Is the Pentagon the biggest loser?<img src="" /></P><p>One of the biggest surprises in the final debt deal was that Republicans agreed to "triggered" defense spending cuts, a concession that helped them hold the line against proposed tax-revenue increases. How would such cuts be triggered? Easy: If Congress can't agree to a package of specific deficit reductions this fall (the savings must be enacted by December 23), automatic across-the-board cuts will go into effect, and the Pentagon, which already planned to cut $400 billion over the next 12 years, will be hit hardest &mdash; losing hundreds of billions of additional dollars over the next decade...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 03 Aug 2011 12:05:00 -0400Debt deal: Did Boehner really get '98 percent' of what he wanted?<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Speaker John Boehner sat down with <em>CBS News</em>' Scott Pelley Monday evening, before the House voted to pass a bipartisan agreement that would raise the debt ceiling, to discuss details of his negotiations with President Obama. (Tuesday afternoon, the bill passed in the Senate, and was signed into law by President Obama &mdash; preventing the U.S. from defaulting on its debt for the first time ever.) The deal overwhelmingly caters to conservative demands, calling for more than $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, with no firm provisions for new tax revenues, in exchange for...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 02 Aug 2011 15:42:00 -0400Is the debt deal a disaster for Obama?<img src="" /></P><p>The debt-ceiling deal hammered out over the weekend "is the lowest moment of Obama's presidency," says Michael Tomasky at&nbsp;<em>The Daily Beast</em>. Echoing many liberals, and even some conservatives, Tomasky argues that by letting Republicans and Tea Partiers have just about everything they want while giving up many of his own key demands &mdash; like increased revenue to lower the deficit &mdash; Obama has done terrible, lasting damage to his political fortunes, his party, and the economy. Is the debt deal really so bad for Obama?</p><p><strong>Yes. This is a disaster:</strong> Obama didn't just lose his standoff with...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 02 Aug 2011 12:14:00 -0400Will the debt deal actually hurt the economy?<img src="" /></P><p>Congress is rushing to pass a compromise deal to raise the debt ceiling and slash the deficit, hoping to get the agreement approved in time to beat tomorrow's deadline. If the effort succeeds, the danger of a government default will disappear, the government will be able to cover its bills through the 2012 election with no further debate, and the federal deficit will be cut by more than $2 trillion over the next decade. (See "The debt deal: Winners and losers.") But will the nation's economy really be any better off?<br /><br /><strong>The deal is disastrous for the economy:</strong> The only good thing about this agreement...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 01 Aug 2011 13:07:00 -0400The West Wing's 'witty and wise' debt-ceiling explanation<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Even after Sunday night's welcome news that President Obama and Congressional leaders of both parties have hammered out a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avoid default, countless Americans still aren't entirely sure what exactly the debt ceiling actually is, or why the threat of ignoring it was so dire. The most helpful tool: A "witty and wise" 2005 scene from the hit NBC drama <em>The West Wing, </em>scripted (by now-MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell) when the show's fictional White House was negotiating its own budget deal. (View clip below.) The key exchange: "So this debt ceiling...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 01 Aug 2011 11:03:00 -0400