Remember last week when refusing to support a raise in the debt-limit ceiling was called “deeply irresponsible” by the Obama administration?  Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made that accusation in a letter to Congress, while Barack Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee warned Republicans not to “play chicken” with the debt ceiling.  In an interview with ABC on January 2nd, Goolsbee warned that “[t]he impact on the economy would be catastrophic,” while Geithner warned of “catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades.”

That’s now old and busted.  The new hotness? Voting against the debt-ceiling hike to make Republicans the responsible party:

Relegated to the minority, Democrats are hinting they might vote against raising the ceiling to force the GOP’s hand.

Democrats relegated to minority status in the House say Republicans are now the ones responsible for raising the federal debt ceiling and are hinting that they might vote against it to force the GOP’s hand.

“It is up to the majority to get this bill through; they can’t duck the responsibility,” Financial Service Committee ranking member Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Hill on Friday.

Will the White House scold Barney Frank for being “deeply irresponsible”?  They should, because there was at least some momentum towards cutting a deal on the debt limit increase with spending reductions in the budget.  Frank instead wanted to play chicken, in Goolsbee’s words, and he may well have made it impossible for either side to support the increase, if anyone pays attention to Frank’s leadership.

On this point, though, they probably won’t.  The White House will look impotent indeed if it can’t round up a considerable majority in its own party’s caucus to support a measure they claim is direly needed to stave off economic disaster, especially if that argument is actually true.  Considering that Democrats will almost certainly fight the kind of deep and immediate cuts in entitlement programs required to keep the US from overrunning the debt limit and defaulting on its obligations, their predictions of doom are at the least realistic.

At least it settles which party in Congress is “deeply irresponsible.”  Conservative Republicans want to at least make the cuts that would arguably render the increase unnecessary.  Frank now says Democrats won’t vote for either.  That’s playing chicken with a Yugo against a Mack truck.