Republicans Are Using The Debt Ceiling To Promote Evil Policies

Republicans Are Using The Debt Ceiling To Promote Evil Policies January 18, 2023

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Debt Ceiling Rally (2011) / flickr

The Republicans, especially those in the House, seem hell-bent to destroy the common good (and so, create evil in its wake). They plan to use whatever power they have to grab after more power for themselves, making sure less and less people can effectively oppose them and their policies. They are nihilistic, which is why they are willing to destroy the United States if they do not get what they want. They have no interest in helping others, though they like to use crises which are mostly of their own making to force the people of the United States to bend to their will. This is what we see happening surrounding the debt ceiling. House GOP members want to use the newest crisis to undermine basic goods and services provided by the federal government such as Social Security and Medicaid:

This is more than mere posturing by Republicans. In a presentation to the House GOP conference on the party’s fiscal priorities, GOP leaders laid out a series of proposals, including a fiscal 2024 budget resolution balancing the budget within 10 years, a cap on 2024 discretionary spending at 2022 levels or lower, and most ominously, for the nation’s seniors “reforms” to “mandatory spending programs” which would almost certainly include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In addition, House Republicans are vowing to not raise the debt limit “without budget agreement or commensurate fiscal reforms.”[1]

The Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, doesn’t care if what he and his fellow Republicans do harms or destroys the United States. He plans to stomp his foot on the ground and keep making his demands without compromise:

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is standing firm in his commitment against raising the debt ceiling without budget cuts as the Treasury Department prepares to start extraordinary measures this week to keep the country from defaulting on its debt.[2]

Republicans are making excuses to justify their reckless behavior. Despite the fact that Democrats have already fixed many of the problems they inherited from the Republicans, Republicans want the American people to believe that the Democrats have been reckless in their spending.  They want us to forget it has been Republican policies, such as Trump’s permanent tax cuts for the rich, which have created the problems we face today. What Republicans propose, such as limiting the ability of the IRS to collect taxes (if not completely do away with the IRS by establishing an unfairly burdensome flat tax), will only make things far worse in the future.

Republicans are not interested in the common good. They constantly show contempt for workers. They have no problem lying about what their policies entail. Similarly, if they think they have enough power to enforce their will, they are willing to show their hand, while using some gaslighting as a way to try to make Americans believe Republicans care for them and their concerns. This can be seen in the way Republicans are talking about Social Security, saying that pushing back the age which people can collect benefits will magically help, not hinder, the elderly. It’s hard to know who, if anyone,  it is they are fooling with such claims.

It seems that Republicans are ready to hold the United States hostage. They are openly telling the people that they must accept all their plans to or else face the potential destruction of the United Sates itself. The more Republicans are successful with this ploy, they more they will use it to take away from the people what is theirs by right, and in doing so, gain more and more power, making it more and more difficult to have their desires resisted.  Republicans, who have a history telling people that they have to deal with the consequences of their actions, who historically have told people they should pay their debts, show that they do not think they should be held to the same expectations. After all, the debt ceiling is about paying the United States’ debts, and Republicans are saying they will make sure that such debts are not paid if Republicans do not get the their wishes fulfilled:

The whole point of raising the debt ceiling is to do precisely one thing: allow the United States to pay its bills. That’s it. That’s why this has to happen. Republicans are preparing a hostage crisis in which GOP lawmakers will only allow the United States to pay its bills if Democrats agree to a series of demands set out by Republican leaders.[3]

Their own arguments, therefore, are self-contradictory, but that is how it has always been with the Republicans. They like to project their own evils upon others, using others as a scapegoat,  hoping that the American people will not catch on. Republicans like to talk about their “concerns,” hoping that by doing so, they can make the people afraid and willing to follow the Republicans, believing if Republicans have presented the problem, they are the ones to deal with them. Republicans do not want people to consider the implications of their positions, for, if people looked into them, it would be clear, their policies do not serve the common good, nor will they help the average worker. They are acting contrary to what government should be for, that is, the common good. While many of them take on the mantle of Christianity, they are acting contrary to the basic principles of the Christian faith in relation to the poor and needy, principles which can be seen demonstrated in the Book of Deuteronomy:

If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.  Take heed lest there be a base thought in your heart, and you say, `The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye be hostile to your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and it be sin in you.  You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him; because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.  For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land. (Deut.15: 7-11 RSV).

To be sure, what we see surrounding the Republicans today is not new. We have seen this abuse of Christianity throughout the centuries. Many people in positions of power and authority claim Christianity, claim to be pious, but use all those claims as a way to gain money or power. Thus, St. Salvian complained in his own day, the fifth century, how taxes were being collected, that so-called Christian leaders placed the burden on the poor, finding a way, like the Republicans today, to ignore the obligations the rich and powerful have to promote the common good:

Consider the remedies recently given to some cities. What have they done but make all the rich immune and pile more taxes on the wretched poor? In order that the old taxes should be remitted the former, they have imposed new taxes on the latter. The cancellation of all semblance of taxation has enriched the former; the corresponding increase has made the latter suffer. The rich have become richer by lessening the obligations which they bore lightly; the poor are dying from the multiplication of the burdens which they were already unable to bear. Thus, the great remedy most unjustly exalted the one and most unjustly killed off the other: to one it was a most wicked reward, the other a most wicked poison. Hence it is I make the observation that there is nothing more vicious than the rich who are destroying the poor by their remedies, and none more unfortunate than the poor whom those things kill which are given as a remedy to all.[4]

He said that those who claimed to be Christian and used Christianity in this manner only insulted the name of Christianity, giving a reason for others to reject it when they see Christians behave in such a fashion:

Therefore, for this very reason, Christians are worse because they should be better. They do not practice what they preach, and they struggle against the faith by their morals. All the more blameworthy is evil which the label of goodness accuses, and the holy name is the crime of an unholy man. [5]

Christians should know that the love of money, greed, has been said to be the root of all evil. Christians, therefore, should know that when they embrace it, they fall far from what God expects from them. For Christianity teaches that those who act upon avarice, and use the power they have, to fulfill their every whim, have, as St. Hildegard said, very dark souls:

But others I saw who were black as bitter smoke on account of their squalid morals, and, therefore, they are bitter because they follow the inclinations of their own minds, and they love wealth.[6]

St. Isidore, likewise, said that such people, due to the grave injustices they inflicted upon those who are poor and needy, will have far more satisfaction to make for their sins, than those who have fallen for other sins:

The oppressors of the poor should know that they are deserving of a more serious sentence when they have prevailed over those whom they desired to injure. For they are to be condemned to a more atrocious future punishment to the extent that they have behaved more forcefully in this world against the life of the wretched ones.[7]

Republicans are playing a dangerous game with the United States. They are doing so, not for the sake of the republic, not for what is good and just, but rather, as a way to gain power for themselves and deny the common good, including the structures needed to preserve it. They claim to be pro-life, but they undermine the social safety net which promotes the dignity of life. They want to drag the United States down and destroy it if they do not get their wish; we should not be surprised at this when we see their reaction to  the attempted coup which took place on Jan 6, 2021. As Steve Benen said, we have bad news, and worse news ahead of us:

So, the bad news is the new House GOP majority has apparently come up with one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas, and the new House speaker privately promised to pursue it. The worst news is that the radicalized Republican Party is so serious about its hostage crisis that it’s already working on plans related to the plot. [8]

The Republican attempt to destroy the common good, and with it, the United States, must not go unconfronted. There is no middle ground possible here. They must be confronted. They must face the consequences of their own evil. They must be called out. They must be stopped and made to pay back all they have unjustly taken from the common good. If that doesn’t happen now, there might not be a chance to fix things for a long, long time.

[1] Michael A. Cohen, “Why Republicans’ Debt Ceiling Games Will Likely Backfire”  in MSNBCNews (1-14-2023).

[2] Virginia Aabram, “Debt Ceiling Standoff: McCarthy Rejects Democrats In Major Break With Tradition” in Washington Examiner (1-17-2023).

[3] Steve Benen, “The Problem(s) With The GOP’s ‘Emergency’ Debt Ceiling Plan” in MSNBCNews (1-16-2023).

[4] Salvian the Presbyter, “The Governance of God” in The Writings of Salvian the Presbyter. Trans. Jeremiah F. O’Sullivan (Washington, DC: CUA Press, 1962), 101.

[5] Salvian the Presbyter, “The Governance of God,” 123.

[6] St. Hildegard of Bingen, “Letter 220r” in The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. Volume III. Trans. Joseph L Baird and Radd K Ehrman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 13.

[7] St. Isidore of Seville, Sententiae. Trans. Thomas L. Knoebel (New York: Newman Press, 2018),208.

[8] Steve Benen, “The Problem(s) With The GOP’s ‘Emergency’ Debt Ceiling Plan.”


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