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Toomey Takes on Geithner Over Debt Limit

By Tom Mulkeen, Contributing Writer

Newly elected Republican Senator Pat Toomey has quickly established himself in the upper chamber of Congress as an influential voice on matters of government spending and the debt.  He introduced his Full Faith and Credit Act last week with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), which forces the U.S. Treasury to prioritize paying off the debt that it has to other countries before spending on domestic issues should the country reach its debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner called the bill “unworkable” according to The Hill and compared it to a homeowner only making his mortgage payment and ignoring other responsibilities, such as credit card payments and personal spending.  Geithner believes that the U.S. will reach its debt limit sometime between April 15 and May 31.  As of February 28, the total U.S. debt stood at $14.195 trillion, which is about $99 below the limit according to Reuters.

Toomey argued in his maiden speech on the Senate floor that raising the debt limit without cutting spending would be the “most irresponsible thing we could do.”

The bill was introduced as an amendment to patent reform and was defeated in a party-line vote.  “If we default, we default.  Just because bondholders in China get priority over our troops overseas or get priority over tax refunds doesn’t mean we’re not in default,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) told the Wall Street Journal.

The government is currently scheduled to shut down on March 18th because a budget has not been passed, and both Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke have been very outspoken of the need for the federal government to raise the debt ceiling.  The government is currently running on a continuing resolution, which extends government spending for two weeks and it seems likely that another continuing resolution will need to be passed in order for the government to continue running.

The Washington Times ran an editorial praising Sen. Toomey’s bill and pointing out that the government has reached its debt limit three times since 1985 before Congress acted to raise it and the economy did not collapse.

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