Congress doesn’t want you to know it, but they are about to raise the debt limit because they’ve spent the full $12.1 trillion allowed on their taxpayer-funded credit card.

They’re hoping you won’t notice because they’re trying to sneak the increase into some other “must-pass” measure, such as the upcoming defense appropriations bill. But if you do notice (please do notice because it will be expensive), they are hoping you will forget by Election Day.

Democratic leadership’s new plan, as espoused by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), is to increase the debt limit by more than is necessary in order to dodge another increase that would otherwise be required next year. As Reuters reports:

The No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives said on Tuesday he supports raising the United States’ debt ceiling to a high enough level so lawmakers will not have to boost it again before the November 2010 congressional elections.

Raising the limit will saddle future generations with debt and come at the expense of taxpayers. As such, this important vote deserves open debate and shouldn’t be buried in an amendment of a 1,000 page bill or managed arbitrarily for the sake of electoral math.

If Congress seriously wants to avoid another debt limit increase, it should give spending cuts a try. Over the next few decades entitlement programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—will double in size and cause the national debt to reach 320 percent of the economy (from 56 percent today).

Reforming entitlement programs would be a far more responsible way to control escalating debt than trying to spend another $1.5 trillion while no one is looking.