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Debt Ceiling Line In The Sand

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(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

Even though it was mostly for show, House Republicans reminded President Obama on Tuesday that split government will mean significant compromise. But just how significant the compromise will be remains to be seen.

The House voted Tuesday to refuse to lift the debt ceiling, which is currently set at $14.3 trillion dollars. Everyone involved, including Republicans, are convinced that the ceiling will eventually be raised, however House Republicans don’t want to agree to any ceiling raise until there is agreement on spending cuts.

The interesting facet of this particular situation is not only what kind of deal the House Republicans will be able to make, but also how this impasse is being marketed to voters.

We’ll be marketed to believe that Republicans are gambling with our future by playing political games with our debt, or that Republicans are finally drawing a line in the sand on spending and are the only party brave enough to pull our country from the precipice of financial disaster.

Which is the truth? As with all marketing campaigns, it’s somewhere in between.

When it comes to marketing the block of the ceiling raise as impending disaster, it’s hard to sell that point when no one seems to be panicking. This particular moment has not struck panic in our markets, nor our politicians. Without that real panic, it’s hard to believe that Republicans are playing games with our future.

However, because the Republicans will be limited in the deal they will eventually cut on spending, it’s not like they will single-handedly save us from the precipice either. Any deal that will be cut on the ceiling raise will not only have to get President Obama’s approval, but will also need to pass a Democratic Senate. House Republicans will be able to secure some cuts, but nothing that will come close to making a significant dent in our budget deficit.

That may come as bad news to many conservatives who are hoping that the GOP would be able to rein in spending more effectively. But the fact of the matter is any spending cut compromise will not include any of the major entitlements or military spending that devour the biggest parts of our budget.

Our debt and our spending are significant issues that do need immediate attention. However, the debt ceiling has been raised eight times since 2001. Waiting to raise it will not bring our economy to a standstill, but the negotiated spending cuts will hardly redefine federal government spending.

But in today’s political climate, the debate over the debt ceiling has become a very effective marketing tool. Frankly, today’s climate may make it seem much more important than it actually represents.

But don’t worry. As soon as the debt ceiling debate is over, I’m confident that we will all be told that the very next budget fight will be the next most important thing ever.

Just call it a hunch.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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