Video: Step off the elevator in this skyscraper of debt

From the office of Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), a video that spells out why the United States’ credit rating should matter to individual citizens (and calls out the obvious fact that an ever-heightened debt ceiling is no ceiling at all):

“If we do nothing, our debt is on track to soar past 80 percent of our GDP, a level not seen since World War II,” the video states. “Just this year, the big three credit rating agencies warned us that the AAA rating for the United States government is at risk. This rating influences everything from the value of the dollar to mortgage interest rates. It creates a global impact felt at the local level, increasing costs of borrowing for families and businesses, diminishing the abilities of small businesses to invest and grow. The result? Fewer jobs. Indefinite recovery.”

Like other principled Congressmen, McHenry has said “no” to a debt ceiling increase without meaningful spending cuts. Heading into the deficit reduction meeting with the president Thursday, Republicans need to remember the debt ceiling increase itself is the compromise. That is, however necessary it might be at this stage in the game, it is still a license to borrow more, to deepen the debt. As financial adviser Dave Ramsey put it recently, “You can’t borrow your way out of debt.” Simple, maybe, but true.

Last night on Fox News, senior political analyst Brit Hume made the astute point that the president has begun to push more aggressively for tax increases to be a part of any debt limit deal because, at this point, an increase in the debt limit won’t mollify his base. That is, those on the left will consider the president to have compromised more than Republicans if the president agrees to spending cuts and “all” Republicans agree to is to raise the debt ceiling. But, as this video demonstrates, a debt limit increase is a lot to agree to! Each incremental adjustment to the debt ceiling likely brings us closer to “our real debt limit” — the point at which debt will overtake GDP.

For all that the impending debt ceiling deadline (27 days away!) has dominated political headlines (nothing compared to the non-political Casey Anthony coverage, of course), it’s all too easy to forget why it’s important, why it’s not just an abstract debate. This video is a welcome answer to all the abstraction.