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GOP, once noisy over debt limit hikes, zips its lip on this one
East Valley Tribune
Tribune Editorial
February 21, 2006

Treasury Secretary John Snow last week informed Congress that he would begin borrowing from the federal employees' retirement fund to avoid exceeding the nation's statutory debt limit of $8.184 trillion.

In other words, our great national credit card was about $10 billion shy of maxing out. Snow estimated that he could buy time until mid-March, but then Congress would have to raise the debt limit, which it last did in November 2004.

Snow's message caused only mild muttering from Democrats and no response at all from Republicans, since it is a matter of some political embarrassment. Contrast this to 1996, when Democrats controlled the White House and top House Republicans angrily and noisily threatened to impeach Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for doing the same thing. He was trampling on the constitutional separation of powers and on Congress' cherished prerogatives, they thundered.

Increasing the national debt limit is usually the case for some pro-forma political grandstanding, with the party out of power using the vote as an opportunity to criticize the party in power for its spendthrift ways.

And Democrats do have some ammunition. When President Bush took office in 2001, the national debt — the publicly held portion of which had decreased for four straight years — stood at just over $5.7 trillion. If Bush administration forecasts are right, it will be just over $8.6 trillion, an increase of 50 percent, on the president's watch.

Call it just a hunch, but we're probably not going to be hearing any Republican calls to impeach John Snow.