Raising the debt ceiling should not be up for debate

America’s global success is reliant on one concept: its historic and unwavering stability. Since the country’s independence in 1776, the United States has never defaulted on its debt over failure to raise the debt ceiling, which the U.S. Treasury Department defines as the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow. Simply put, America pays its bills.

However, with the June 1 deadline to raise America’s debt ceiling looming, congressional politicians have failed to act productively. America’s stability is under attack — and to Congress, it’s business as usual.

According to the White House, a default would fundamentally hinder the federal government from serving the American people. Regardless, Republican Party members seem intent on using America’s downfall as a bargaining chip.

On April 25, the House of Representatives passed a Republican Debt-Ceiling-and-Cuts Bill that could force harmful policies on American citizens. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bill would put 10 million Americans at risk of losing their health coverage and cut $3.6 trillion of vital government services such as transportation, college aid, and child care. And it gets worse: this detrimental bill would only extend the debt ceiling for less than a year, prolonging America’s economic uncertainty.

This has all happened before. American politicians reached a similar impasse in 2011 when, according to U.S. Bank Wealth Management, Republicans in Congress squared off against Democratic President Barack Obama over the debt ceiling issue. Ultimately, both sides came to an agreement to raise the debt ceiling just two days before the Treasury Department estimated it would run out of funds.

In all likelihood, politicians in 2023 will come to a similar resolution. Still, the threat of America’s economic collapse should not be used as leverage to pass harmful Republican legislation. Historically, increasing the debt ceiling has not been an issue of contention between Republicans and Democrats. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Congress has increased the ceiling seventy-eight times since 1960, the vast majority of which have not been met with so much debate.

Nonetheless, Republican congressmen today seem intent on drawing out this once-simple political process. While they may be easy for politicians to ignore, the consequences of their pricey demands aren’t theoretical. For the millions of Americans who rely on government-sponsored health care, budget cuts equate to less medicine, longer wait times, and less reliable healthcare policies.

But beyond the costly demands, these extended negotiations reinforce the perceived divide between Republicans and Democrats in American politics. If both parties can’t come to a resolution when the future of the country’s economy lies in question, how can they be expected to protect American citizens in any other facet?

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