As readers of this blog know, I am optimistic about the future of the U.S. We have an amazingly resilient democratic form of government as well as great economic and military strength. Believe it or not, I am also optimistic about the likely performance of the new Congress over the next two years. There are two main things I want them to do:
- Support Ukraine. Helping Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion is by far our biggest foreign policy challenge at the present time. Defending democracy and freedom around the world, against autocracy and repression, is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also in our own best interest because it enhances our national security. Judging by the Omnibus Spending Bill (including $45 billion in new spending for Ukraine) approved by the last Congress, the Biden Administration and the Senate strongly support continuing to support Ukraine.
- Cut overall spending. One of the outcomes of the supposedly “chaotic” process of electing a Speaker for the new House of Representatives, will be the return to “regular order” in the House whereby standing committees will approve bills on individual topics. This means that spending budgets for all bills will get the attention and oversight that they deserve. This bodes well for the spending restraint that is so badly lacking and sorely needed in Congress.
- Raising the debt limit. The current debt limit is $31.4 trillion which will be reached by midyear 2023. Congress will need to raise the debt limit before this amount is hit. There is overwhelming public support for Congress to reduce the debt in a bipartisan manner. Hopefully, this means that the Ukraine supporters in the Senate and the deficit hawks in the House will be able to negotiate a compromise plan to raise the debt limit in return for strict spending controls as well as continued support for Ukraine.
Conclusion. The stakes are high for the new Congress. Biden Democrats support Ukraine. Republican deficit hawks control the House. The current debt limit will be reached by midyear. I am optimistic that a sensible compromise can be achieved and I’m willing to go out on a limb to predict it! We’ll soon see what happens.