Herald-Leader Editorial

Pass a budget? Then pay the bills; McConnell's debt-ceiling vote makes sense

February 14, 2014 

Call Republican Senate challenger Matt Bevin and his Tea Party allies economic-suicide bombers, anti-government radicals or far-right fringe.

But, please, don't call them conservatives.

Attempts to co-opt the label notwithstanding, their eagerness to sow economic chaos and their contempt for the legislative process is anything but conservative.

Latest example: Wednesday's Senate vote to pay the government's bills by increasing the debt ceiling.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had to play grown-up and end Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's filibuster which was aimed at forcing spending cuts in the budget that Congress adopted just last month by threatening to drive the country into default and another government shutdown.

Let's be clear. McConnell didn't step in and invite the Tea Party's wrath to give Democratic President Barack Obama a "blank check" as Bevin accused.

McConnell stepped in to save the GOP from self-destruction and from being blamed for creating another crisis as it was blamed last fall for the government shutdown.

Bevin wasn't the only Kentucky Republican siding with the kamikazes. Sen. Rand Paul lined up with Cruz against McConnell and the 11 other Republicans who joined McConnell to end the filibuster.

McConnell and the Republicans went on to oppose raising the debt ceiling which was approved on a 55-43 party line vote.

Over in the House, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, voted against raising the debt ceiling. So did Republican Reps. Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie and Ed Whitfield.

Oddly, Barr, Guthrie and Whitfield had voted for the budget last month, but they could afford to pander to the fringe because House Speaker John Boehner had enough Democratic votes to avoid disaster.

Rep. Hal Rogers voted with the grown-ups — not surprising since Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was instrumental in negotiating the first federal budget in three years. He understands that you don't approve a spending plan one month and then threaten the next month to default unless you cut the budget.

One of the criticisms that Bevin hurled at McConnell is that he has voted for 11 increases in the debt ceiling during his five terms in the Senate.

Well, yes. Until the Tea Party took over the GOP, debt ceiling votes were a routine matter of paying for spending that Congress had already approved and the government had already incurred — the sound, sober, conservative thing to do.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service