Did the Tea Party listen to too many late-night infomercials? (“Bad credit? No credit? No problem!”) There is no other explanation for how some of the loudest leading figures on the far right claim that in reality the government federal failed on its debt it might not be such a bad idea after all.
The Republican Party has traditionally made “kitchen table economics” a key talking point in its drive for fiscal responsibility. Government should be run like a family’s budget, they say, arguing that when spending is greater than your income, it’s time to cut back.
Indeed, this is how it should work and work for many American families, especially when the going gets tough. But most families also recognize that when it comes to the essentials, if you buy it, you have to pay for it. Whether the option is to open just one more credit card or find a short-term loan rather than losing the house or the car, you are looking for credit, knowing that without the house or the car, your options for earning. more become exponentially dark.
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This is a solution that even the GOP can generally recognize as beneficial in the long run, and this is the reason why the debt ceiling has has been raised 45 times since President Reagan was in office, all with bipartisan support and most of them without any concessions or negotiations.
So what has changed? The Tea Party, of course. A radical group of extremists trained on Idiom of Grover Norquist that “the government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub,” the faction came to power at a time when the greatest qualification to stand. Congress had absolutely no legislative experience. They ran on a platform of government dismantling, and now that they see their opportunity, they have no intention of letting a little thing like default or the collapse of the US economy stop them. And they are encouraged by some big supporters.
“Don’t let Obama lie to you: even MOODY’S says the United States will NOT default if the debt ceiling is not raised,” tweeted Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, a right-wing fundamentalist Christian organization that organizes “value voters.” Moody’s in fact says that as long as the government pays all interest and principal, there would be no risk of its credit rating being affected – which essentially assumes that the government will be able to meet these financial demands and would not therefore not lacking. Treasury Department Says This Strategy Likely Won’t Work for more than a few days.
Far-right spokespersons like Fischer have pushed lawmakers into a chicken-of-fault game, and it’s a game members of Congress are more than willing to embrace. “Personally, I think it would bring stability to world markets”, said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida), who argued that refusing to raise the ceiling would show that the United States was serious about paying its debt.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), meanwhile, asserts that “there is no debt ceiling” – based on a Philosophy 101-style argument that if a debt ceiling is constantly raised, is it really even a ceiling? (Whoa, man. Deep.)
“We have 10 times more tax revenue than annual interest on debt securities”, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) told Politico. “So if the president doesn’t want us to default on our credit or our obligations, we won’t.”
“We are not going to default on the public debt. That doesn’t mean we have to pay every bill the day it arrives, ”Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) told CNBC.
So what bills would Rep Barton and other GOP lawmakers pay? Priority would be given to social security checks and bond payments. Everything else would just have to wait.
The situation may not immediately be dire. The majority of the House, led by President John Boehner (R-Ohio), has proposed a six week limit increase to give more time for negotiations on the government’s biggest sticking point – the defunding Obamacare. That the idea arose shortly after Koch Industries, one of the Tea Party’s main backers, said he didn’t want to see any flaws surely is just a coincidence.
Democrats and the administration have yet to agree to the new terms, saying they would like a deal that reopens the government at the same time, but the talks have been labeled “good.”
On the one hand, an extension provides more leeway to deal with the potential economic collapse that could arise if the United States does not repay its loans. On the other hand, the proposal explicitly prohibits the Treasury from taking “extraordinary measures” to continue to make payments once the government reaches this ceiling.
For the Tea Party, this new wrinkle could seriously hamper their messaging machine – which is based on the idea that the default won’t be so bad because the government will only pay interest to keep the credit rating from plummeting.
The “compromise” could be just as bad for those hoping to see the shutdown come to an end. Ending the fight against the debt ceiling removes the urgency of adopting a clean and continuous resolution and getting the government fully operational as soon as possible. For those who rely on the government for their wages, their pensions, social security, Head Start, WIC, veterans benefits, registration for small business loans, go in clinical tests to cure illnesses, to have foodborne illness tracking or any number of duties, an extra six weeks means juggling their own finances and deciding which bills can be paid.
Unfortunately, unlike the government, ordinary Americans cannot use financing tricks to keep their creditors at bay.