DeMint: Geithner is playing "Chicken Little"

Adding to an ever-growing chorus, South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint on Fox News Sunday dismissed fears of imminent default if a debt ceiling deal is not struck before the Aug. 2 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Roll Call reports:

The South Carolina Republican urged his colleagues not to rush to any deal currently being negotiated with Democrats because government default is not imminent.

“There certainly would be disruption, but this is not a deadline that we should rush and make a bad deal,” DeMint said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Secretary Geithner has been irresponsible. He’s playing Chicken Little here. The fact is that we will pay our debts if it’s the last dollar we have. … We’re not going to default.”

But Geithner says such denials of the threat of default are just “political theater.”

“There’s no responsible leader that argues that is a credible path. … It’s a political moment. People are trying to get attention,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “They say really amazing things, but there’s no credible argument; no responsible leader would say for the first time in its history [the United States] should not pay its bills and meet its obligations. That would be catastrophic for the economy, and everybody understands that.”

But, of course, DeMint is not saying the U.S. shouldn’t pay its bills or meet its obligations. DeMint is saying, just as Wisconsin freshman Sen. Ron Johnson, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and radio host Rush Limbaugh (among others) have said, that the federal government takes in enough money to cover its debts and meet its obligations — at least for the short-term — even without an increase in the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department itself has created a contingency plan, suggesting it’s certainly possible for the federal government to continue to operate, even in the absence of a debt ceiling increase.

It’s more important now than ever that DeMint and other advocates for fiscal restraint dispel the notion that default is inevitable, as the president and congressional leadership continue to meet to hammer out a plan to address the debt and deficit. Only in an atmosphere of calm decisiveness — not in the atmosphere of panicked compromise that usually results from procrastination (and, make no mistake, the president and others in Congress have definitely procrastinated!) — can government leaders responsibly devise a long-term, sustainable path for the nation’s fiscal future.


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