The U.S. Senate passed a last-minute compromise plan to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling Tuesday, sending the bill to President Barack Obama to be signed into law only hours before what would have been an unprecedented default.
The agreement -- reached Sunday by Obama and congressional leaders from both parties -- calls for up to $2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade, raises the debt ceiling through the end of 2012 and establishes a special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms.
This debate was far too loud, lasted far too long, and quite frankly shouldn't have ever happened in the first place. While the government certainly is in need of financial reform, tying that to the debt ceiling was unnecessary. The debt ceiling has been raised 10 times since 2000 (7 times under Bush, 3 more so far under Obama) with no fanfare or debate. Make no mistake: a federal budget vote as a requirement to raise the ceiling was partisan politics, with ideological extremists (particularly the Tea Party) holding Congress hostage over the negotiations. This was a manufactured crisis, done by Representatives who have stopped listening to the public and badly damaged this country's standing in the world simply to make a point.