What is a debt ceiling? Basically it is the limit on how much the federal government will be allowed to add to the total of debt outstanding from many past years. It is the obligation of Congress to vote to raise the limit so it can continue borrowing.

Congress created the debt ceiling with the Second Liberty Bond Act in 1917. This allowed the Treasury to issue bonds and take on other debt without specific congressional approval. The total debt must fall under the statutory debt ceiling.

In 1939 and 1941 Congress established the Public Debt Act. It was amended in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. This act basically eliminated separate limits on different types of debt. It appeared the U.S. has raised the debt ceiling, in perhaps many different forms, about 90 times.

No matter which party is in office, Republicans or Democrats, Congress has raised the debt ceiling to prevent a government shutdown. A lot of political rhetoric will continue from both parties on this issue. We the American people will have to continue listening to their hot air and b.s. about how they, the U.S. Congress, will rectify the ongoing debt ceiling.

The debt limit now was set at about $31.4 trillion. The last time Congress voted to increase the national debt was in December 2021. At that time the debt limit was increased by $2.5 trillion. As of January 19, 2023, the United States reached the debt ceiling.

It appears our debt limit will only last until sometime in September or October 2023. If Congress does not act before this timeframe, and fails to do so would constitute a default. Default would lead to borrowing at higher rates in the future, and if the government defaults, certain parts of the government must shut down.

As I remember in the past when the government had to shut down for a period of time, our elected representatives were still being paid. Certain other government workers had to leave their jobs on furlough and were not being paid. What I would like to see, if Congress does not follow through and does not prevent a government shutdown, then all elected representatives do not get paid also.

In my opinion and perhaps others believe our U.S. Congress can be a pain in the neck. I am sure our Founding Fathers perhaps felt the same way at times. It is quite possible our Founding Fathers had an even lower opinion of Congress.

I leave this issue on this note: it’s surprising what Congress can do when it has to and how little Congress does when they don’t want to do for political reasons.

Let us voters understand that it is us who vote for representatives in Congress and they must be held responsible if they don’t protect us even on this issue.

Thomas E. Carter

Rio Rancho