The standoff over whether Congress will raise the nation’s debt ceiling is a stupid and dangerous game.

If the U.S. government shuts down as a result, it would be a self-inflicted wound on the order of stabbing oneself to show how upset you are. It would be crazy.

Idaho’s Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are playing this game because they know most Americans don’t have the interest or time to delve into complex government finances. It’s all we can do to balance our own budgets.

So, it’s easy for them to mischaracterize the partisan fight over the debt ceiling—the artificial limit on how much the U.S. may borrow to pay its bills—as an argument over Democrats’ infrastructure bills, which haven’t even gotten to a vote yet.

It’s not.

Crapo and Risch are trying to blame Democrats for the entirety of the nation’s spending already approved by Congress even in previous administrations.

In a statement Crapo said, “To raise the debt ceiling required to cover their reckless, partisan tax-and-spend proposals that will hit all Americans and raise the debt even more, they must use their tools and resources to raise the debt ceiling themselves.”

A Risch press release stated, “A debt ceiling increase will be necessary because of Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending spree… .”

Neither statement acknowledged any Republican responsibility for the level of the national debt. Yet debt climbed under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Infusions under President Obama rescued the country from the financial crash of 2008. President Trump’s huge corporate tax cuts took a major bite out of federal revenues before the global pandemic even rolled in.

Co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center Eugene Steuerle calculated that the Trump Administration was responsible for the third-largest increase in the annual budget deficit, relative to the size of the economy, of any administration—ever.

Responsibility for the size of the nation’s spending lies with both major parties. So does responsibility for paying the bills.

Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is like taking on a mortgage to build a house and then telling the bank that you will pay only part of it because you decided over a couple of Saturday night whiskeys that it’s too much money.

Bringing the country to the brink of shutdown and refusing to cover debts already owed is sick politics.

Crapo and Risch should quit vying for awards as Drama Kings, vote to raise the debt ceiling and keep the nation in business.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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