US debt limit bill gives political cover to both parties
Wednesday's vote by the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives to extend the government's borrowing power until May 19 was no different.
It temporarily removed a hazard - a potential default within the next month - that only existed because Republicans created it. They initiated Wednesday's vote after taking a beating in public opinion polls for engaging in budget brinkmanship over the "fiscal cliff," a series of budget deadlines that came together at the end of 2012, which could have resulted in huge tax increases and spending cuts had Congress not acted to either eliminate or postpone most of them.
While House Speaker John Boehner advertised the vote as the "first step" toward a balanced budget that puts the onus on Democrats to address the deficit. But the House-passed bill does not contain measures that are guaranteed to bring about deficit reduction.
The bill did not: cut government spending; extract commitments from President Barack Obama or Democrats in the U.S. Senate to cut government spending; or avoid three potentially jarring fiscal confrontations a few months down the road.
Automatic budget cuts postponed from the fiscal cliff around New Year's Day kick in on March 1. A bill that temporarily funded the government will expire on March 27, threatening a potential shutdown of some federal operations. In May, the borrowing authority approved on Wednesday will run out.
While Republicans say each of these will present an opportunity
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