Heartland Institute Comments on Boehner Debt Ceiling Bill

Published July 29, 2011

The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote today on a plan by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The following statements from experts at The Heartland Institute, a 27-year-old free-market think tank, may be used for attribution. For additional comments, please refer to the contact information below. To book any of these experts on your program, contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.

“The government this year estimates nearly $2.2 trillion of revenue and $214 billion of interest payments. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has enough money to pay the debt, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, with some $400 billion left over. If he were to sell unused or underused federal assets, he’d have hundreds of billions more. Default or failure to pay Social Security benefits would be a purely political decision by the Obama administration.

“Yet Boehner’s latest plan would take spending and the national debt even higher. Federal spending has doubled in 10 years. Is the country more financially secure? Slowing future spending increases is not the same as cutting spending. We need to actually cut spending.

“If political leaders were serious about making the nation more financially secure, they’d cut spending and borrowing today, not years in the future. They could abolish redundant agencies and programs, repeal the Obamacare bill, end the Medicare prescription drug benefit, gut the massive and abusive Homeland Security Department, pull troops out of undeclared Middle East wars that have no definition for victory, close many of the 800-some military bases we have on every continent but Antarctica, and eliminate the 2,000 federal subsidy programs. Doing those things would be a good start.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News
[email protected]

“It’s neither perfect nor a long-term fix, but Speaker Boehner’s debt proposal deserves quick passage by the House as a way of cutting government and avoiding default. Republicans made a huge mistake by opening the debt ceiling debate in the first place and the reasonably small gains that the proposal will produce if it becomes law show just how badly they have fumbled the ball.”

Eli Lehrer
Director, Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
Vice President, DC Operations
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The debt ceiling is a short-term matter that can’t be used to solve the long-term problem, which is the federal government’s overspending.

“The president is disingenuous in threatening to cut off Social Security checks if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. He’d be a fool to do that, and he is not a fool.

“Republicans cannot seriously think that they can force real budget reforms when they control only one house of Congress and the president wants even more tax hikes instead. The sensible approach is for them to force the president and the Democrats to own the budget, and that is where this is all headed: positioning for next year’s elections.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.