Raising the Debt Limit, a Lesson in Being Practical

Faced with another potential Government shutdown and financial crisis, John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives orchestrated a vote which passed a piece of legislation to raise the Government’s borrowing limit without conditions until March of 2015. To do this Boehner, a Republican, had to rely on support from Democrats in the House to pass the legislation because the House Republicans would not support raising the debt ceiling without getting some cost cutting amendments in return. The radical Republicans in the House had engineered a government shutdown from October 1-16, 2013 and received a tremendous amount of political heat and popular resentment for their unwillingness to compromise and pass a budget. With the public blaming primarily the Republicans in the House of Representatives for the impasse, and the world wondering if Washington had lost the ability to govern, Boehner used his powerful position as Speaker to push through a “clean” bill with no conditions to raise the debt limit, a demand by the White House. If he had not done so, then the “full faith and credit of the United States” to pay its debts would be questioned. America’s credit rating could have been negatively impacted and our economic recovery slowed considerably. We need to pay our debts and we need to pay them on time. To default is not what a responsible nation does, especially when it’s the leader of the free world. Boehner did the practical right-minded thing and took it on himself to defuse the standoff in a hotly divided House of Representatives by agreeing that the debt limit must be raised without conditions and recognizing that the country could not suffer through yet another government shutdown. Both Republicans and Democrats know that there will be plenty of other opportunities to go to battle over reducing the budget. But, for one moment in time, someone did the right thing and got something done.

Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit

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