Washington Sets A Shameful New Record

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
– P.J. O’Rourke

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the government has a serious problem with money. Actually it’s more like a spending addiction.

But it’s easy to spend money when it’s not yours and you can borrow an almost infinite amount.

It makes the financial responsibility of working on a budget seem… unnecessary.

This year is no different.

The government’s fiscal year begins October 1 each year. And as September came and went, with no budget appropriations bills in sight and their backs to the wall, they did what they always do; passed something called a “continuing resolution.” It’s called that because it’s a resolution to continue funding the government. Also because that sounds a helluva lot better than an “overspending to pay for our fiscal incompetence resolution.”

An aside, according to reporting in the Military Times (a publication I would think has a definite interest in the G being able to pay its bills) noted…

Significant progress on a full year budget deal is not expected until after the midterm election, when voters will decide which party will hold control of the House and Senate for the next two years.

So no budget until everyone gets their re-election business done. Business as usual…

Anyway, on September 30, the president signed something into law called H.R. 6833… “which provides fiscal year 2023 appropriations to Federal agencies through December 16, 2022, for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government.”

But it also does something else…

“…and includes supplemental appropriations to respond to the situation in Ukraine.”

The formal title of the bill was the “Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023.”

Not only was Congress not able to get their fiscal house in order, they felt the need to slip in an additional $12.35 billion for  “assistance related to Ukraine, including training, equipment, weapons, logistics support, and direct financial support for the government of Ukraine.”

The Biden administration is going to support this war effort one way or the other. My problem with this is that they did it by packing it up with a bill to approve spending to fund most of the government — not a bill that’s likely to receive a lot of opposition.

They do this a lot. Pack extraneous spending, that likely wouldn’t get passed on its own, into bills that merit some urgency. 

So there you have it.  Congress’ latest fiscal sleight of hand. 

So What?

I bring this up for another reason. Because the US has hit yet another embarrassing milestone…

The national debt just pushed past $31 trillion. As of a week ago Monday, the US’ tab hit $31.123 trillion.

It’s a staggering number to think about on its own. It’s more than our total GDP. 

But just last October, the debt ceiling — the borrowing limit above which the Treasury could no issue debt to pay the bills — stood at $28.8 trillion. Barreling toward that in the wake of the pandemic, in December Congress raised the debt ceiling to $31.4 trillion.

And a year later we’re already at $31.123 — without anything like a budget appropriations bill going forward. Another CR going into March of 2023 and we could be seeing a new debt ceiling of maybe $33, $34, or even $35 trillion. 

Sky’s the limit.

I’m ranting about this today because it reinforces something I wrote about a few weeks ago to my paid subscribers — that we’re now living in a fake economy. One that no longer produces value but instead is addicted to the feeling of prosperity that debt can give.

And that’s what you’re feeling now…

Make the trend your friend,

Bob Byrne
Editor, Streetlight Daily