Looming debt ceiling, a leaderless House … what could go wrong?

images-1What happens if Congress — leaderless, rudderless Congress — doesn’t raise the debt limit by the deadline, now estimated to be 18 days away?

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the right’s go-to economist, gives us a hint:

The first thing you’ll see is a market reaction. Then you’ve got dramatic impacts on consumer confidence, the world’s melting down again and they go into an economic fetal position…there’s just no good news there…. You open a hornet’s nest of nightmares and difficulties for the Treasury, literally, which legal promises on either debt or programs are you going to break?”

The responsible thing to do would be to solve the problem, just as Congress and the White House have done for a couple of hundred years now.  John Boehner is reportedly trying to do just that, but as a lameduck speaker his ability to cut a deal and deliver the votes is suspect at best. And what’s remarkable is the fact that this was once considered a little bit of routine bookkeeping duty — if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the U.S. government can’t legally pay its bills. So the ceiling was raised seven times under President George W. Bush, and a whopping 18 times under President Reagan. In fact, under the conservative hero Reagan the debt ceiling more than tripled, from $935 billion when he took office to $3.12 trillion when he left.

reagandebt1

Source: Office of Management and Budget

These days, though, important elements of the Republican Party are gripped by the notion that the debt ceiling gives them leverage, in the same sense that a bad guy threatening your children can be said to have leverage. “Give us what we want,” they’re basically saying, “or something bad may happen to this little economy of yours.” Hundreds of thousands of jobs, the nation’s credit rating, the stock market …

U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, proudly described the mindset this way: “I’ll play chicken with you every time. You think I am crazy, and I know you are not.”

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Along those lines, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly demanding that President Obama agree to major reductions in Medicare and Social Security, such as changes in cost-of-living adjustments, as well as provisions handcuffing the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s his price. No one knows what the leadership of the House is likely to demand, because no one knows who the leadership of the House might be. And most of the Republican presidential field is pushing hard for a confrontation as well. The notable exception might be the hapless Ben Carson, who is still waiting for someone to explain to him what the debt ceiling even is.

I’m tempted to say I’ve never seen anything like it, but I would be wrong:

Reader Comments 0

397 comments
JKLtwo
JKLtwo

Jay - “Give us what we want,” they’re basically saying, “or something bad may happen to this little economy of yours.

It's called compromise.  Don't you remember that thing you were lecturing us about a couple days ago?  Maybe the Democrats could try that....

dreema
dreema

@JKLtwo hahahahaha- compromise. You don't negotiate with terrorists JK, and these conservatives are terrorists--threatening to blow up the economy for no good reason other than to demonstrate their own violent power. I hope the Democrats and POTUS stand firm against the crazies and that the American electorate repudiates their shameful tactics.

foo2u
foo2u

I got a link on my FB today about a TN school district closing it's doors and blaming it on Obamacare...

Curious, I went and priced out what it would cost me to get policy if I didn't have a job that provides my insurance for my family. ...

I gotta say... I'm SHOCKED. I think I owe wingnuts an apology... at least for my views on insurance. I have no doubt the insurance companies are using Obamacare as an excuse to gouge and rape, but the numbers are simply incredible.

I have NO idea what the solution is, but I'm no longer an Obamacare proponent...

Derp on me...

JCole1970
JCole1970

We could get our act together and both sides demand that we balance our budget and then we could quit worrying about raising the debt ceiling.


I'd even throw in a tax hike on the wealthiest to get it done.

gotalife
gotalife

I watched the talking head football experts all pick the Falcons but they left out a very important fact.


The Saints were fighting to keep their jobs.


Now if the gop ever have to do that, they might try to govern but lets face it.


Half the voters will vote for them no matter what the gop does so there is no pressure on the gop to even try to govern.


It is what it is.

JCole1970
JCole1970

@gotalife


I hear you and I agree with you.  However, from your own analogy, anyone could say the same thing about the Democrats.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

@gotalife Romnmey says,"What?"

47%ers rule!  Go Hillary!  Having a vagina and who you are married to are the most important qualities to look for in this election.

dreema
dreema

@JKLtwo @gotalife Or, years of experience in the Senate and State department, knowledge of the world in in a global economy--compared to Trump and Carson, for example, who can't name the leaders of major allies. 

gotalife
gotalife

Lets see gop's emails just for fun.

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @gotalife 

Oh it's easier for the republiklans because all we have to do is point out they are to dumb to get away with anything.....

Whereupon they will begin to brag about whatever they are trying to hide.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@gotalife You can submit a FOIA if you want. The difference is if you ask for Republicans emails, you will probably get them.

JCole1970
JCole1970

@gotalife


I don't know how far to push the email issue, but should any citizen be comfortable with the Sec. of State having a private email server that is used for sensitive communications?  I would think we could all agree that's a bad idea.

SeriouslyFolks
SeriouslyFolks

@InTheMiddle2 @gotalife unless of course you were looking for 20 million of them that were stored at the RNC by the previous administration....but pay no attention...THIS is much more egregious!

dreema
dreema

@JCole1970 @gotalife This apparently had been the practice for her predecessors during the Bush administration. It's not like she made up the idea.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

out for a taco with some of our newest immigrants in the International Zone (cant eat fresh seafood every day mon) - let me tell you - the AM radio Republifax coordinated phrase of the day is - "Chicken Little" and "the sky is falling"

You'd think it was Childrens reading day on the radio or something, but we know they dont care bout children once theyre born.

These people are getting scarily more bizarre every day, srsly

gotalife
gotalife

They cling to their last fake scandal.

It is all they have.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

In a way, I'm kind of glad that Doc Carson has revealed to the gen-pop two truly annoying habits of bubble-world conservatives:


1. they haven't the slightest notion of why the debt limit is raised routinely; and

2. they really think if them German Jews just had some guns they could've Second Amendmented the Holocaust away.


It's a start anyway.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@Visual_Cortex 

Unlike the German Jews, those Polish and Russian Jews should be OK - what with them being in another country and having an army and all

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

The Reagan administration resulted in the investigation, indictment, or conviction of over 138 administration officials, it has been labeled the most corrupt administration in history.  How many indictments and convictions for President Obama.  0, zero, natta.  Give it up Republicans and demand that your leaders do some damn work.

straker
straker

Johnny


So, the FBI can't find any dirt on Hillary's e-mails and you think its an Obama cover up, just as I knew you would.

SeriouslyFolks
SeriouslyFolks

@JohnnyReb @straker Do you really want us to beleive that when the FBI finds nothing, you will be content???  Remember, the FBI also looked into Benghazi...Fast and Furious....

Lee30519
Lee30519

@straker I wonder why she would have deleted all those emails?  Hmmm

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@straker - the FBI will determine when the investigation is over, which is entirely separate from the House Select Committee.

I realize that may be too difficult for Liberals to comprehend, but try.


honested
honested

@JohnnyReb @straker 

I'm sure it will be over before the election as they don't want to pretend there is any reason to stretch out a pointless investigation of nothing.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Lee30519 @straker 

"Hard to find dirt if they have been wiped clean."

By that logic, everyone and anyone is guilty.  Pretty useless comment (unless you have any evidence?  No, didn't think so).

Nice smear attempt, though...

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@InTheMiddle2 You now need to look at the other side of the coin.  GDP. 


How is tax revenue as a percentage of GDP over the past 40 years? 


InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@honested @InTheMiddle2 Cut your expenses today. If you borrowed beyond your means what would you do. You cannot force your boss to give you more money so you have to bevome - RESPONSIBLE......Not a word that many in government understand. It wasn't 15 years of inadequate revenue, it has been 6 years of WAAAYYY overspending by a completely irresponsible Congress and WH

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @honested 

Yo genius, during the 15 years we had GROSSLY INADEQUATE REVENUE we were busy running up the debt through consistent deficit spending (at least for the first 8 years followed by 3 years of necessary deficit spending to fix the mess from the first 8). 

CIVILIZATION COSTS, and most Americans have sense enough to realize that despite what the misnamed 'freeeeeeeedom caucus' might believe.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@Finn-McCool @InTheMiddle2 @honested Just trying to put it in simpler terms for those of you who may have never had to be responsible for anything and spend your lives blaming others for your pay, or expenses.

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @honested @LogicalDude @PaulinNH 

In 2000 and until late 2001 we had a surplus.

Then we had a pointless tax cut and two unfunded wars.

The tax cut was supposed to 'unleash a flowing sea of capital', but that didn't happen.

What happened was an ever increasing deficit coupled with an ECONOMIC COLLAPSE.

President Obama took necessary steps (albeit somewhat timid steps) to remediate the collapse which have COSTS.

In the ensuing years, the improvement in economic conditions coupled with the first steps in returning to sane revenue policy have REDUCED that deficit while making life more livable for most Americans.

This is what happened while you were apparently hibernating.

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @honested 

I pay attention to real data daily, much more data than is continually presented by people attempting to support an (often deeply flawed) conclusion.

Picking one tidbit or another here and there does not tell the whole picture.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@InTheMiddle2 @honested Here go the Cons again. Trying to understand the national economy in terms of personal finance. They never listen or learn.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@InTheMiddle2 @PaulinNH WHOOOO created the deficit????  The deficit has existed for decades. Obama inherited an economic crunch that took its toll on the deficit.  


Yeah, blaming Obama for the deficit is like blaming your kid for being honest when they tell you that you smell bad. 

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@InTheMiddle2 @PaulinNH 

Hey DA - care to guess when the 2009 Federal fiscal year started?  How about 10/1/2008 - a full 4 months before Obama was inaugurated.

Congress passes these things called bills - for raising revenue and for spending - AHEAD of the FY.  So - yes - Obama inherited a $1.4Tn deficit.