It is time for Washington to revisit the time-tested common sense that one should live within one’s means.
Yes. I could not agree more. That advice, courtesy of China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, which today published a frank criticism of the debt-and-deficit-reduction wrangling among the president and congressional leaders. The Wall Street Journal reports:
A U.S. default could cause a global recession even worse than the downturn that followed the 2008 financial crisis, and stock markets around the world are already signalling concern, Xinhua said. …
The sharply worded commentary by Xinhua, one of China’s most official media outlets, indicates rising alarm in China over the prospect of a U.S. default, and some of the damage that the debt-ceiling fight has already done to the U.S.’s reputation here. …
“With leadership comes responsibility. It is unfortunate and disappointing that when political leaders in Washington spar over who is doing good for their country, they take little account of the world’s economic soundness.”
Hmm. “With leadership comes responsibility.” Somebody has told the president that, right? While House Speaker John Boehner breaks his back to line up support for a bill “nobody is supporting on its merits,” as AP put it so perfectly last night — presumably for no other reason than to avoid default, the president hides behind a pseudo-veto threat and the hope of a handshake-based deal (i.e. a deal with no details).
China’s mounting concern about a default might be misplaced, of course. As so many have said, the country can function under a debt limit budget for some time yet (not without extremely hard and painful choices, though). But the Xinhua commentary underscores the essential urgency of actual reform. That only will provide long-lasting reassurance to our lenders and, should the U.S. face a credit downgrade in the first place, that only will restore our AAA rating.
That sort of reform was what Republicans attempted — and, hopefully, will continue to attempt — with “Cut, Cap and Balance.” In the meantime, with the deadline fast approaching, Boehner (and, shoot, even Reid) shows more leadership than Obama. His scrambling for a plan suggests he takes the president’s insistent warnings about default more seriously than the president does.
The House is scheduled to vote on Boehner’s bill today. If it passes, which it’s looking increasingly likely to do, that will mark at least the fourth plan Republicans have presented, from the Ryan budget to Cut, Cap and Balance to McConnell’s compromise. All along, the Democrat criticism has been that no plan Republicans have presented has provided any sweetener at all (i.e. — no tax hikes) — but if Reid is willing to forgo revenues in his own plan, will they really die on the hill of the timeline for a debt limit increase?
As the quickly developing “conventional” wisdom about the Boehner plan goes, if it passes the House, Reid will do something with it in the Senate, however much he might repeat, “Democrats will not vote for it.” And whatever hits the president’s desk, he will sign or look extremely sheepish in the face of his own carping about the hard-and-fast Aug. 2 deadline and “inevitable” default.