On Tuesday, Day Eight of the government shutdown, Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn sent a message to constituents saying he was prepared to battle the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama over the debt ceiling. He said he was ready to expand the debate beyond funding for Obamacare to try and win sweeping budget reforms.
“Let no one underestimate my resolve. Anyone in the press or elsewhere who thinks I am giving up the critical fight against ObamaCare is engaged in wishful thinking,” he wrote.
“As we approach the upcoming debt ceiling increase, we can only do so if accompanied by serious reforms to our spending habits. These budget reforms should include reductions to entitlement spending, elimination of non-essential programs, implementation of pro-growth measures to boost the economy, and increasing access to domestic energy.We must make progress on and debate these fundamental reforms, while at the same time continuing the fight against ObamaCare.”
The debt ceiling has to be raised by October 17.
Raising the debt ceiling was once a formality in Washington, the lack of heat around the issue born from acknowledgement on all sides that debt had already been incurred and simply must be paid and that the time for lowering the debt was during negotiations over how much to spend in the future.
News outlets have estimated that the U.S. treasury borrows one out of every five dollars it spends.
Economists have lamented recent Republican efforts to gain ground on budget priorities by threatening not to pay the nation’s bills. Wall Street analysts have said it’s difficult to calculate the losses that come from the threats, where insecurity rises across financial markets. The Dow Jones stock index has fallen 900 points since mid September and it dropped 160 points Tuesday after Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner held dueling press conferences.
The battle over the debt ceiling launched by Republicans in 2011 led to the first-ever credit-rating downgrade in U.S. history. The Government Accountability Office estimated that the delay in raising the debt ceiling then increased government borrowing costs by $1.3 billion. The events sent markets spiraling and rode the struggling economy over a series of rippling bumps.
Lamborn, who represents Colorado’s most conservative district, CD5, has been marked out as one of the 80 members of the so-called House “suicide caucus” — Republican members who represent a small percentage of the population, are unwilling to compromise and who are nevertheless driving House leaders far to the right.
As Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker wrote in September, representatives like Lamborn are pushing positions that might be attractive to their constituents, but they are positions that, “even within the broader Republican Party, represent a minority view, at least at the level of tactics.”
“In previous eras, ideologically extreme minorities could be controlled by party leadership,” Lizza wrote. No longer.