Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner took a new tack this afternoon in encouraging Congress to act to raise the government’s debt ceiling. Earlier this week, Geithner sent a much-expected letter to Congress making it official that the United States had maxed out on it’s ability to borrow to meet its financial obligations.

At an event hosted by the Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Geithner reminded Congress that the level of the national debt reflects funds already committed and spent.  In short, this is water under the bridge and we need address this and to move on to the future. Here at the NAM, we, too have found it’s easier to navigate the ongoing budget debate by breaking it down into the Past, Present and Future

In typical Washington fashion, legislators went first to the Present and after more than six months agreed on legislation that funds the federal government until the end of the current fiscal year.  We feel strongly that Congress needs to go back to the Past and raise the debt limit so that the federal government can meet its financial obligations. 

But we can’t stop there.  One reason we are in a fiscal bind is because of high levels of government spending and we must take a look hard look at federal outlays and how we can control federal spending.

Finally, on to the Future, fiscal 2012 and beyond.  The House last month approved a budget blue print and we commend House members for taking on the difficult and challenging task of identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation and to achieve fiscal soundness over the long run. Manufacturers urge the Senate to follow suit so we can start looking ahead.

Click here to view Secretary Geithner’s remarks in full

Dorothy Coleman is vice president for tax and domestic economic policy, National Association of Manufacturers.