“Crawford, a freshman legislator, said that the president could cope with a full stop on U.S. borrowing by using incoming tax revenue to pay for the services he thinks are essential — soldiers, Medicare and Social Security, and interest on existing debt.
“That approach, outside experts have said, might mean the government wouldn’t be able to afford the FBI, veterans’ benefits or other federal services.
“That’s all right with Crawford.
“‘That wouldn’t work for just a few days. That would work for a few years,’ said Crawford, who added that he would agree to raising the debt limit only if such a bill included major changes in federal budget priorities. Budget deficits, he said, require ‘that we take some painful measures now. I’d rather swallow that bitter pill today.'”
“What they’re saying around the country is, ‘Do not raise the debt ceiling. It’s that simple. It’s time for Congress to get its fiscal house in order,’ Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin told CNN. The group is the nation’s largest tea party organization…
“‘I think that it’s accurate to call it pressure,’ Martin said. ‘The other thing is, we’re holding these … freshmen accountable. A lot of these freshmen ran on the promise that they were not going to increase the debt ceiling. Now, they’re in D.C. with all of their colleagues on the Hill. And they’re buying into the company line, forgetting about the fact that the American people have elected them not to do that.’
“For those who vote to raise the debt limit, ‘The American people are going to watch what they did, watch what happens to the economy and next November, I think there will be consequences,’ Martin said.”
“If that financial bedrock shakes, thousands of interest rates that hinge on Treasury rates would have to be recalculated — upward. Large holders of U.S. debt such as money market funds, insurance companies and pension funds might dump all sorts of assets in an effort to ‘rebalance’ the overall risk level of their portfolios. The resulting sell-off could turn chaotic. All of this would threaten business investment, consumer spending and, by extension, job creation. We haven’t even mentioned the impact on confidence if no one knows from one day to the next whether, say, the national parks will be open or federal contractors paid.
“Markets have probably been complacent so far because investors simply cannot believe that Washington would risk one of this country’s most precious assets, earned through generations of hard work and lawful conduct: the privilege of borrowing money at low interest based on the ‘full faith and credit’ of our government and the people it represents. There are many words to describe politicians who would trifle with that national legacy. ‘Conservative’ is not one of them.”
“On the one hand, presidents get blamed for a bad economy, and that is likely to have some effects down the ballot. About a third of voters who participate in presidential election years do not vote in midterm years and may have little interest in Congressional races, often voting a straight party ticket. On the other hand, the historical record provides some suggestion that voters are sophisticated enough to spread the blame around and vote all the rascals out of office. The majority party in the House has lost seats on average when the economy is poor, even when the president is from the other party.
“Which of these effects will prevail in any given year is hard to know. But the view that under a divided government, a bad economy is bad for the president’s party, full stop, is probably too simplistic. A bad economy is almost certainly bad for the president himself. But it may be neutral or even favorable from the standpoint of his party’s candidates for Congress.
“And there is one prominent case, 1948, in which a president succeeded in transferring blame to the Congress. This is why, particularly if the economy worsens but this is not perceived as being entirely Mr. Obama’s fault — for instance, in the event of a debt crisis — there is some downside risk for Republicans. Don’t be surprised if you catch David Plouffe, the senior White House political strategist, reading press accounts of Harry Truman’s campaign.”
“Obama desperately needs a way to blame Republicans for the bad economy. If Republicans deny him a debt limit increase, temporarily, that might do the trick…
“It would give him grounds – utterly false grounds – for shifting the blame to Republicans. Obama would no doubt leap to exploit the opportunity. A few examples come to mind: delayed Social Security checks, no meat and poultry inspections, and postponed payments to armed forces personnel.
“The public outcry would be raucous. And that’s on top of any disruption in financial markets and the economy that even a short-lived rejection of a debt limit increase might cause. Given this, Republicans would reverse themselves and approve the debt limit hike in short order…
“Republicans had figured the debt limit vote would give them leverage to insist on spending cuts – a strategy that made sense to me. However, they’ve now been outmaneuvered by Obama. He’s cleverly using every political tool at his disposal, and he has more of them than Republicans do.”
“Let’s start by pointing out the obvious: the Democrats do not show any signs of caving. They have offered what seem to be very attractive deals, and been turned down. Think you’re going to get a more attractive deal? Every time another poll like this comes out, your bargaining position gets worse. Moreover, in Washington, deals take time. Even if Obama and the Democrats caved right now and gave the GOP massive entitlement cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, the government would be hard-pressed to hammer out the details, draft them into legislative language, get the CBO to score the cuts so you know that they’re real, and then whip the votes to get the damn thing passed. Every day you wait makes it less, not more, likely that you can get any deal at all…
“If we had to cut spending–if no one would lend us any more money–could we do it? Definitionally, yes. But it would mean an enormous amount of real suffering: homeless families, hungry old people, nursing homes closing their doors to indigent patients. And the fact that we could do it if we had to doesn’t mean that we can therefore do it when we don’t have to. If you try to artificially create a situation that requires drastic cuts, voters are going to get rid of you, not the spending.
“In fact, we wouldn’t even have to wait that long. The tea-partiers who are proud to stick to their guns are not actually tough enough to weather the television coverage of homeless families, the doctors regretfully turning away their Medicare patients, the angry constituents beating down their office doors. They’ll fold–but not until they’ve lost virtually all their capital, and have no way to get back in the game.”
“At 2:30 on Monday morning, Aug. 1, 2011, the clerk of the House announced that the motion had failed. Within 24 hours, the government of the United States would be unable to pay its debts…
“But then something else began to happen to American politics, something that turned a long-standing political fantasy into a reality. In election season after election season, the results had been blithely ascribed to the electorate’s powerful ‘anti-incumbent mood.’ Yet, no matter how angry they became, voters never punished incumbents of both parties. In 1980, 1994 and 2010, they voted Democrats out — and virtually every Republican was left standing. In 1974, 2006 and 2008, they turned against Republicans — and just about every Democrat returned to office.
“Until now, when the two-party system had failed at one of the government’s most basic jobs: protecting the full faith and credit of the country’s obligations. The persistent, low-level discontent with Republicans and Democrats suddenly became a tidal wave sweeping across ideological lines, encapsulated by one tweetable, postable, share-able word: ‘Enough!'”