The Congress has one basic duty. Every year, they must write and pass a budget that will be signed by the president. There’s not much else to do under the Constitution. Lawmakers still write new laws, even 200 years later, including the United States Public Debt Act of 1939. Even though Congress has the sole authority to request credit under Article 1, Section 8 (take that, 14th Amendment), they eventually wanted to have one single limit on debt instead of raising each individual kind of debt held by the government. That means the debt ceiling was created to make it easier to borrow.
Plenty of Democrats (even Obama opponents lately) have questioned both the sanity and the loyalty of Republicans for holding up a debt ceiling vote since it is an increase for funds already
spent allocated. In reality, it would be the Democrats who ignored their only job, passing a budget, for over two years and then raising a debt limit insufficient to cover their bills.
The Republicans exploited the bad credit of the 111th Congress to extract their pound of flesh. The cuts being asked for are relatively small in that they will require more debt limit increases in the future. If the Democrats win back Congress in 2012, they can put all of that spending back in, anyway. The real sticking point may be the Balanced Budget Amendment.
The BBA would put in spending limits based on the annual GDP, which has been an indicator of federal income. Essentially 1/5 of our economic output would go into government, down from the nearly 1/4 it is now. That limit would make new debt uncommon, as the deficit would become small by definition.
The interesting part is that this is even a Republican issue. By most accounts, Republican administrations spend more than Democratic ones. You would think that a liberal would like the idea of a president going before the American people and telling them they want to start a war in a foreign country but you have to give up Medicare to do it. We may never fight anyone again.
An Amendment may be too difficult of a solution to implement but we are spending well beyond our means at a time when hoarding is king. This goes beyond rating agencies and large interest payments. This is the first duty of our lawmakers.