The Debt Ceiling

By Blaine Luetkemeyer, 3rd District Congressman
Posted 6/7/23

I hope you had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. In St. Elizabeth we had a very nice Memorial Day service honoring the men and women who have given their lives for all of us. It is extremely …

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The Debt Ceiling


I hope you had a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. In St. Elizabeth we had a very nice Memorial Day service honoring the men and women who have given their lives for all of us. It is extremely humbling to reflect how many Americans have answered the call to serve this nation, and it is extremely rewarding to remind their families how much their sacrifice is honored and appreciated.

My weekend was also filled with family and youth softball and baseball. As a grandfather it doesn’t get any better. What a great way to kick off summer.

The week after Memorial Day is usually a district work period for Congress. I was looking forward to several days’ worth of visits across the Third District, but unfortunately, I had to reschedule many of those visits in order to get to D.C. for the debt ceiling vote. As you most likely know, both the House and Senate passed the debt ceiling bill this week.

A lot is being said about the debt ceiling negotiations and compromise bill, but to me the most important fact about the bill is this: the House just passed the largest spending cut in American history. For anyone who is concerned with the fiscal state of our government, this is a success.

Specifically, the bill cuts over $2.1 trillion in government spending and puts in place reforms to boost our economy going forward.  For example, the bill reforms environmental permitting laws that have been weaponized for years to delay or kill energy and infrastructure projects. Those reforms will lead to a larger production of American energy and more pipelines to move it. It also means the roads and bridges that could take a decade to permit, which costs taxpayers billions in unnecessary expenses, will now take less than 2 years. That saves taxpayer dollars and lowers inflation by bringing down energy costs.

Another important aspect is expanding work requirements for welfare programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This accomplishes two things. First, it gives recipients of these programs the ability to find a job and eliminate their need for assistance, which saves taxpayer dollars. Second, it adds people to the workforce and helps fill the millions of job openings we have in this country. That leads to more people working; businesses producing more products and services which brings down costs; and ultimately creates more tax revenue to put toward the debt.

There are plenty of people who would have liked this bill to go further – I’m certainly one of them. I voted for the House bill in April because I’d like more cuts and reforms. But it is important to keep in mind that these cuts – which, again, have never been achieved in our history – were negotiated with Democrats in control of the Senate and White House. I’m sure you remember the President saying for months that he would not negotiate on the debt ceiling. He and Congressional Democrats were adamant that Congress must pass a clean debt ceiling with no spending cuts or reforms. (That had happened each of the last nine times the debt ceiling was raised.) At the same time the President proposed $5 trillion in new taxes on the American people. While only controlling the House and negotiating against the Democrat Senate and White House, Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans forced them to not only abandon their catastrophic tax proposal but also accept historic cuts and reforms that will save taxpayers trillions of dollars.

We can always poke holes in any compromise. We can say we don’t like something because it doesn’t go far enough or because of what it does not include. Many people do that. But at the end of the day, when the bill came to House Floor Wednesday night, we had three options: 1) a clean debt ceiling as the President wanted; 2) defaulting on our debt, destroying our economy, and leaving us unable to pay veterans benefits, Social Security, and our other obligations; or 3) passing the largest spending cut in American history.  As a conservative, it was a simple decision.