Let’s start with the debt ceiling. Since 1944, the debt ceiling has been increased 94 times. During President Reagan’s two terms, it was raised 18 times.

We raise the debt ceiling for a simple reason: to pay our bills. As President Obama said this week, Congress can’t stop paying the tab for things that Congress has already approved. Not only would it be reckless and wrong, it would have devastating consequences for our economy and our people.

Just look at what happened the last time Republicans threatened to default on our debt in the summer of 2011: Our nation’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history and our economic recovery was nearly derailed as consumer confidence plummeted and businesses slashed investments. A recent study found that the delay in raising the debt limit will end up costing taxpayers $18.9 billion.

Despite that horrific experience, Republicans are now eager to take our economy and the American people to the brink once again. Leading GOP lawmakers are publicly threatening a default that could push our country back into a recession if their demands are not met.

That’s not governing, that’s extortion.