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Fact Finders: Who’s to blame for debt ceiling woes?

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The nation could bump up against the debt ceiling again on December 3rd.

The most recent wrangling over the debt limit has produced several viewer questions. Some of you want to know; Who’s to blame for the rising debt?

Some background first, The debt limit is a nearly century-old artificial cap. Lawmakers created it. Then, The U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY says Congress has raised or suspended it nearly 80 times since 1960.

More recently, Congress suspended the debt limit three times under Donald Trump. He used debt to fund the 2017 tax cuts. But both Joe Biden and Barack Obama passed ambitious economic aid packages. Obama had the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Biden had the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

That spending required the government to borrow more. Then, we have mandatory spending in the budget that includes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

David Mitchell is Director of the Center for Economic Education at Missouri State University. He tells us those huge programs spend more money than they bring in.

“The percentage of the population that’s retired is getting larger and larger. And so rightfully so they’re saying, Look, I’ve worked, I’m ready to retire, I want to go do my own thing. And there are just simply not enough people below them to actually essentially pay for all of that. And that’s why the government continues to borrow money,” explained Mitchell.

Future spending like the big proposals you’re hearing about in Congress is not a current factor in the debt ceiling. If new spending is passed, of course, that changes.

So, on this Fact Finders, we can’t slide the blame in either direction. It seems many share the blame over the last several decades.

If you have something you want us to investigate; email us at factfinders@ky3.com.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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