Two Iowa congressmen who will face off against one another in 2012 are taking different stands whether to raise the limit on U.S. government debt.
That limit or so-called “debt ceiling” is set at $14.3 trillion today. Officials say the U.S. government will surpass that figure in June and the Obama Administration is pushing congress to raise that debt ceiling. Republican Congressman Tom Latham says he will vote no.
“All it is saying is that, ‘We’ve maxed out our credit card,'” Latham says. “If you’re a family, you’ve maxed out your credit card and so rather than change your habits, you call up the credit card company and say, ‘I want to borrow more.'”
Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines says he’ll vote yes.
“The debt ceiling — I think we must do it. I think we must,” Boswell says. “I think this world we live in is based on the dollar. Maybe some day change to the yen or the euro. I hope not, but it’s on the dollar and if we don’t make good on our payments and so on, it would be a disaster, I think, worse than going into an all-out depression.”
Experts say if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the federal government budget will have to be balanced — requiring a roughly 40 percent cut in the overall federal budget or a combination of cuts and tax hikes. Latham says it’s time to start down that road.
“And that’s what we have been saying for years is that we need to finally address the irresponsible spending that’s been going on in Washington. Long-term, we’ve got to fix the problem now,” Latham says. “If we wait five years, it’s too late.”
Congress has voted 10 times in the past decade to raise this so-called “debt ceiling” and if it isn’t raised soon, the Obama Administration says the U.S. government could begin defaulting on debt. Boswell says defaulting on U.S. Treasury bonds would damage the world’s economy.
“We all know we’ve got to reduce the debt. We’ve got to reduce the deficit and there’s ways to do that. We’re offering them up,” Boswell says. “But we can’t go south on our world responsibility, as well as the responsibility to the country.”
Boswell and Latham both will seek to represent Iowa’s new third congressional district in the 2012 election. It’s a district that covers 16 counties in the southwest corner of the state. The two congressmen made their comments during recent appearances on Iowa Public Television.