Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Whether you view this as the next hostage taking by the GOP, or as a dangerous game of chicken by uninformed Tea-Publicans, the manufactured crisis of raising the federal debt ceiling portends trouble because serious adults who are cognizant of their responsibility to govern wisely are in short supply in the Republican House caucus.
To his credit, incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has acknowledged that he's well aware of the fact that his chamber is going to have to extend the federal debt limit. He noted that he's already "made it pretty clear" to his own caucus that Republicans are "going to have to deal with it as adults." Boehner added, "Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part."
Unfortunately, the TanMan is herding unruly Tea-Publican cats who believe in their bumper sticker slogans and who are totally clueless about how government actually works. Dealing with the debt limit "as adults" doesn't appear likely, as Steve Benen reports at The Washington Monthly:
[Sunday] morning, two right-wing lawmakers — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Rep.-elect Mike Kelly (R-MN) — reiterated their opposition to raising the debt limit on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Soon after, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that failing to raise the debt ceiling "would be very bad for the position of the United States in the world at large." Graham, however, quickly followed that by saying he's prepared to hold the debt limit hostage "until a plan is in place" for the nation's long-term fiscal challenges that meets his satisfaction.
So much for dealing with this "as adults."
Sen. Graham wants to hold raising the debt ceiling hostage even though he admits that it would not be a good thing to have the United States default on its Treasury obligations. But he wants to use this "manufactured crisis" to raise the retirement age and to means test Social Security and Medicare Part D, or in other words, turn these entitlement programs into welfare programs. Lindsey Graham: Don't Allow Debt Ceiling to Be Raised Without Cuts and Means Testing for Social Security.
On This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Jake Tapper interviewed Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee about the upcoming vote on the federal debt ceiling, and wondered what will happen if the Tea-Publican extremists successfully keep it from being approved. Goolsbee: Debt Ceiling Vote Is 'Not A Game':
TAPPER: There's a big crisis point coming up potentially, and that is the nation is only about $400 billion away right now from reaching the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, meaning this spring Congress will have to vote on whether or not to lift that ceiling. A number of Republicans, especially Tea Party candidates, have said that they will not vote to do so.
What economic effects would people see immediately if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling? And does the administration have a contingency plan if that happens?
GOOLSBEE: Well, look, it pains me that we would even be talking about this. This is not — this is not a game. You know, the debt ceiling is not — is not something to toy with. That's the — the — if we hit the debt ceiling, that's the — essentially defaulting on our obligations, which is totally unprecedented in American history. The impact on the economy would be catastrophic. I mean, that would be a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008.
As I say, that's not a game. I don't see why anybody's talking about playing chicken with the — with the debt ceiling.
If — if we get to the point where you've damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would — that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity. I mean, that would — there would be no reason for us to default, other than that would be some kind of game.
Later during the panel discussion on This Week, George Will called Republican opposition to raising the debt limit "suicidal" and Amy Walter shed some insight into just what game Lindsey Graham is probably playing. Amy Walter: Republicans Hoping They Can Take Symbolic Vote on Debt Limit and Let Someone Else Be the Adult:
JAKE TAPPER: Speaking of — of the tension between Speaker Boehner and the Tea Party Republicans coming in, I want to read you this quote from an interview Boehner gave to the New Yorker magazine. He was referring to the vote to raise the ceiling on the debt limit, which is currently $14.3 trillion.
Boehner says, "This is going to be probably the first really big adult moment for the new Republican majority. You can underline adult. And for people who've never been in politics, it's going to be one of those growing moments. It's going to be difficult. I'm certainly well aware of that. But we'll have to find a way to help educate members and help people understand the serious problem that would exist if we didn't do it."
Speaker Boehner suggesting that if you do not vote to raise the debt ceiling, you are not being an adult. George?
GEORGE WILL: I know of no other developed nation that has a debt ceiling. This is a purely recurring symbolic vote to make people feel good by voting against it. The trouble is, it's suicidal if you should happen to miscalculate and have all kinds of people voting against it as a symbolic vote and turn out to be a majority, because if the United States defaults on its sovereign debt, the markets — well, it will be stimulating.
JAKE TAPPER: Well, you heard — and you heard Austan Goolsbee earlier today talk about — the word "insanity" was what he used to describe it.
MAJOR GARRETT: Let me give a sense of the anxiety that John Boehner, the Republican leadership in the House feels about this. At orientation conferences with incoming house Republicans, both at Harvard and at Heritage Foundation, this topic came up again and again and again. No matter what the policy conversation was, they wanted to know, why do we have to increase the debt ceiling? What are the economic consequences?
There was deep-seated, A, curiosity and skepticism about the need to do this. So internally House Republicans are going to have to sit down and — and conduct what will amount to speed education courses on this matter.
Now, two other significant things. This will be a clean vote, a visible vote that will be separate from everything else. You can't tuck it into another legislative maneuver, as Democrats did under the Gephardt rule.
Secondly, what you will also see is the House Republican Appropriations Committee will move spending cuts through alongside these, so those who have to vote for the debt ceiling will say, "I've raised the debt ceiling, but I've also voted to cut spending." You'll see that happen much more rapidly because of the pressure applied politically on this debt ceiling vote.
TAPPER: Amy, last word on the debt ceiling?
AMY WALTER: No, I think that Major is right. This is going to be a very interesting test, sort of a game of chicken. And I think there are a lot of Republicans out there right now hoping that they can take a symbolic vote because somebody else is going to be the adult and do that.
And you may see it based on when you're up for re-election — the House obviously every two years, but in the Senate, you know, who is most worried about a Tea Party challenge, maybe the folks that can take a pass on that.
Goolsbee is correct: even a symbolic vote not to raise the federal debt ceiling due to the ideological extremism of Tea-Publicans — only to be quickly reversed after the world's financial markets crash — will be viewed by the rest of the world as defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States. The damage to this debtor nation will be catastrophic, and may be irreparable. It is insanity.