President Obama signed into law February 12 a bill that would increase the federal debt limit by $1.9 trillion to a total of $14.3 trillion. The legislation also included a restoration of the “pay-as-you-go” provision of congressional budgeting that requires new spending proposals in Congress to be matched by cuts or tax increases in order to prevent accelerating the already out-of-control federal budget deficit.
If there were any lingering doubts that official Washington rewards incompetency and lack of foresight, Thursday’s Senate confirmation of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term as Fed Chairman should put them to rest.
The Senate voted on December 24 to allow the federal government to borrow an additional $290 billion, thereby increasing the total federal debt from $12.1 trillion to about $12.4 trillion. The House had already approved the measure during the previous week.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in the 19th Century. Small minds, at least those belonging to the ruling class in Washington, D.C., have broadened considerably since then. Senate Republicans, for example, may often be foolish on the subjects of taxing and spending. But at least two dozen of the current crop of GOP Solons have insulated themselves against any suspicion of consistency.