As the White House and House Republicans play chicken over the debt ceiling, it might be relevant to consider numbers released last week by the Congressional Budget Office that highlight Washington’s spending addiction.
The CBO figures show federal revenue coming in at lower-than-expected levels in April, a massive 36% drop when compared with a year earlier. This is bad news for future red ink — April is traditionally a strong month given that federal income taxes are due. The deficit for the first seven months of the current fiscal year now sits at $928 billion and rising quickly.
Remember last year how President Joe Biden bragged that his administration had cut deficits by historic amounts? Most of that was misleading hogwash and reflected emergency COVID expenditures coming off the books. Mr. Biden promised falling deficits in the future, but with revenues lagging, the deficit for the current fiscal year will almost certainly exceed last year’s $1.4 trillion. It’s no wonder that the president is rarely eager to talk to inquisitive reporters.
It gets even worse. Interest on the national debt hit $107 billion in April, The Wall Street Journal reports, “and is already $374 billion for the first seven months” of fiscal 2023. High interest payments — which crowd out other priorities — are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, spending continues unabated at record levels. Over the first seven months of fiscal 2023, federal outlays have increased 12%, according to the Journal. The imbalance between spending and revenue will become even more pronounced if the nation slips into a recession under Mr. Biden, as many economists expect.
It’s true that the debt ceiling has little to do with future spending. But to simply keep increasing the limit ad infinitum without addressing the budget issues that have repeatedly brought us to this point is unproductive folly. House Republicans have passed a bill to boost the debt ceiling while also putting caps on future spending. Where is the Democratic alternative in the Senate?
Mr. Biden met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week. In the interim, the president should consider a Rasmussen poll found that 57% of likely voters favor the House GOP debt ceiling legislation, with just 34% opposed.
Mr. Biden needs to adjust to the new reality. Democrats lost the House in November. If he truly wants to avert a default, the president has no choice but to work with the opposition. Republicans have put a proposal on the table that has popular support. The White House so far has offered nothing but demagoguery.