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Walking Away From The Truth: GOP Playing With Matches On The Debt

Just ignore Tuesday’s vote against raising the debt ceiling, House Republican leaders whispered to Wall Street. We didn’t really vote against it, members suggested; we just sent another of our endless symbolic messages, pretending to take the nation’s credit to the brink of collapse in order to extract the maximum concessions from President Obama.

Once he caves, members said, the debt limit will be raised and the credit scare will end. And the business world apparently got the message. It’s just a “joke,” said a leader of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Wall Street is in on it. Not everyone found it funny.

No matter how they tried to spin it, 318 House members actually voted against paying the country’s bills and keeping the promise made to federal bondholders. That’s an incredibly dangerous message to send in a softening global economy. Among the jokesters were 236 Republicans playing the politics of extortion, and 82 feckless Democrats who fret that Republicans could transform a courageous vote into a foul-smelling advertisement.

The games that now pass for governing in an increasingly embarrassing 112th Congress are menacing the nation’s future. It was bad enough when Republicans threatened to shut down the government to achieve their extreme and extremely misguided spending cuts, but that threat would have caused temporary damage. The debt limit is something else altogether. If the global credit markets decide that the debt of the United States will regularly be held hostage to ideological demands, it could cause significant harm to investment in long-term bonds and other obligations. That, in turn, could damage domestic credit markets and easily spark another recession.

To prevent this from happening, 114 Democrats in April asked for a “clean” vote without conditions. But Republicans were not about to set their hostage free. Knowing that the clean vote would not pass — and imposing a two-thirds majority requirement to ensure its failure — House Republicans gave the Democrats what they requested. They then voted it down, sending their reckless message to the world.

But there was no excuse for so many Democrats to go along with that message, including the leadership. Steny Hoyer, the minority whip, urged his members to vote no so they would not “subject themselves to a political 30-second ad attack” with all Republicans voting no. Apparently Mr. Hoyer did not trust voters to understand what a dangerous and dishonest game the Republicans are playing.

The exercise has prompted the White House to convene talks to discuss the Republicans’ scattershot demands, which have ranged from trillions in spending cuts to the outright dismantling of vital safety-net programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats have hoped to get an increase in revenues out of any deal, but House Republican leaders emerged from a White House meeting on Wednesday spouting the usual discredited claims that higher taxes on the rich would impede job growth.

What Republicans seem unwilling to acknowledge is that the debt-limit debate is not about future spending. It is about paying for a deficit already incurred because of two wars and tax cuts approved by both Republicans and Democrats at the behest of a Republican president. Tuesday’s vote was a chance to do the right thing and educate the public on why it was necessary. Instead, too many lawmakers walked away from the truth.

June 2, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democrats, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicaid, Medicare, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stalwart” Ronald Reagan: Why Raising The Debt Ceiling Is Necessary

Let’s get real. What person in their right mind would really want the United States to default? Of course, nobody, yet over the years many members of Congress have voted against raising the debt ceiling.

Barack Obama did it and now rejects his own action. It is always a symbolic gesture that both Democrats and Republicans use, and use irresponsibly.

Yet now we seem to have the Tea Party, and a larger group of Republicans, clamoring for some kind of show down at the OK Corral. Not a symbolic gesture to some but a real threat. Not smart.

For those who like to cite Ronald Reagan in his 100th year as a stalwart, antidebt, no-tax-hike, no nonsense conservative, they have the wrong guy. Aside from his major tax increases as governor of California and as president here is a little history on the debt ceiling.

In a letter to then-Majority Leader Howard Baker on November 16, 1983, President Reagan asked “for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.”

Reagan went on:

…the United states could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.

This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequence of a default–or even the serious prospect of default–by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate….The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

The point is that Republicans should shelve using the debt ceiling vote as a means of negotiation. This is not a negotiable item. Should they take this right up until the 11th hour and refuse to fund the government, not only will Reagan’s admonitions come true but the Republicans will seal their fate as an irresponsible, minority party–a pariah for years to come.

Bad policy, bad politics.

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Senate, Tax Increases, Taxes, Tea Party | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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