Let me say first that I am not a person that has a view that all debt is bad or that having “debt” is somehow unbiblical or ungodly. Debt in and of itself is not an indicator of spiritual immaturity or an unsanctified life. Having debt does not indicate a lack of intelligence, nor does it state unequivocably that the debtor is poor at finances.
I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and much of my teaching and pastoral ministry in this area of practical discipleship is influenced by his work as I help folks work to regain control of their finances.
Furthermore, as it relates spiritually (which is my particular area of expertise as a pastor/teacher) I find that idolatry and covetousness can be involved in a person’s life whether he has a debt or has none. (I personally know some people who live to NOT have debt and to increase their checkbook balance every month. In this case…the focus in their lives is still the accumulation of wealth rather than dependence on God and biblical stewardship.
Now here is the prompt: The leadership of the United States will again suspend the limit of debt accrual which was set at 18.1 Trillion dollars, averting a possible government shutdown until 2017. Now to determine if they are heroes or heathen…we ought to define the “debt ceiling.” HERE is a helpful article from the Congressional Research Service.
Frankly, I am not certain if simply know what the debt ceiling is or how it affects fiscal policy will shed light on the issue. In fact, here is a recent article explaining the agreement, and a general opinion piece of the validity of a debt-ceiling as it exists from an Economics Professor which recently appeared in Fortune Magazine.
What is true is this:
- The United States owes 18.1 Trillion Dollars now and that is growing.
- The Representatives elected to establish and manage budgets for us have just lifted that amount so that it doesn’t have to be discussed again until AFTER the 2016 election.
- If you and I did this, Wells Fargo would foreclose on us. Quickly.
I cannot imagine going into my banker and saying, “Economy is bad and I have a bunch of pressing needs that are important to me. I’d like to increase the amount of debt I owe you even though I have no plan and show no activity demonstrating that I will stop spending. It is just important so give me more money.” I imagine a guard would slip up behind me in her office and escort me out.
Frankly…for me…the Debt-ceiling should trigger a pause in the spending process to examine whether we should continue our current course of action. It is APPARENTLY unable to do that because the same people restricted by its existence have the ability to simply vote to raise or remove it at will. Truthfully, they can only do so because people like you and me keep sending their “hides” back to Washington every two years to do it again! The People are the accountability and we are not holding them accountable.
Personally, I think this is one other example of the need for a Constitutional Amendment to limit the Congress in budget matters. The “Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)” if ratified by the States would set barriers to Congressional action that would require them to seek approval to live above our means. What seems clear is that whether it is a BBA or some other device…if the People of the United States don’t have the will to hold representatives accountable and the COngress won’t hold itself accountable…then someone has to step up! Otherwise…we will be Greece or some other quasi-socialist experiment whereby the government takes it all and gives you back what they think you need.
So are our Representatives “heroes” for averting a government shutdown? NO! Not because they did not work hard to find terms of agreement but because they did not fix the problem; rather, they kicked the can down the road until soon after an election…so we the People might forget again before they run for reelection.