Existing U.S. debt

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The Sunday Perspectives page cartoon on Oct. 20 by Jeff Stahler (depicting a couple dining out, with waiter standing at the ready) tends to reaffirm an all-too-popular public misconception concerning the "debt ceiling." About to place their order, the couple considers "extend[ing] our debt ceiling this evening." But the recent debt-ceiling debacle did not involve a debate over any new, or additional, government spending.

The debt ceiling needed to be raised in order to meet our already existing payment obligations, lest the United States default on its debts. While the size of our government, including how many taxpayer dollars it spends, may be fitting fodder for discussion, make no mistake about it: for us to default on our existing debt-payment duties is not!

Mere hint of a default courts the danger of damaging our nation's credit rating. An inevitable consequence of that would be to increase the costs of government across the board. Because none of us wants that to happen, fostering doubt about extending the debt ceiling is downright un-American.

Squirrel Hill


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