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No debt ceiling hike, no pay for Congress?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Congress,Debt Ceiling,Ashe Schow

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., have introduced the "Pay Your Bills or Lose Your Pay Act of 2013," a bill that would halt Congress's pay if they don't raise the debt ceiling.

"If members of Congress are willing to let America become a deadbeat nation by not paying our bills," Boxer said. "We should not be paid our salaries."

Boxer and McDermott offered the oft-repeated line that failing to raise the debt ceiling would result in a government default on its debt. This myth has been debunked numerous times, but apparently Boxer and McDermott haven't learned (or are ignoring for political purposes). Even if the debt ceiling is not raised, the government will continue to service its debt according to Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.

Beyond being constitutionally required to repay its creditors, the federal government has enough tax revenue flowing in every month to make payments on the debt. It would take an act of Congress to reprioritize payments in order to keep creditors from being paid.

During the 2011 debt limit debate, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., introduced a bill that would prioritize payment on U.S. debt interest, Social Security benefits and active-duty military pay - all expenses that debt ceiling alarmists claimed would end if the borrowing authority wasn't raised.

Boxer and McDermott's bill appears to be either homage to the Republican-introduced "No Budget, No Pay" legislation that passed in January or, more likely, a mockery of it. That bill blocks congressional pay until the Senate and House pass a budget. So guess who passed a budget for the first time in four years? That's right, the Senate.

Threaten to take away their pay, get a budget. Would that work for getting a budget surplus, too?

Ashley Schow is a commentary staff writer. She can be reached at aschow@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner