Wednesday, January 5, 2011

GOP Bluff On The Debt Ceiling

Today, the 112th Congress was officially sworn in and Republicans now have a majority of seats in the House. The Congress is faced with several immediate and pressing policy decisions that will demonstrate how the Republicans can use their newfound majority in the House to affect change for better or for worse. Back in September the Republicans publicly announced their Pledge to America, which is basically a recycled version of the Contract with America from 1994. The Pledge includes many fiscally conservative promises such as rolling back government spending to 2008 levels and to "establish strict budget caps to limit federal spending". The Pledge even claims to achieve all of these goals while exempting "seniors, veterans, and our troops" from cuts.

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By Kevin Zollman Kzollman via Wikimedia Commons
The national deficit is rapidly approaching the $14.3 trillion cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can borrow. This borrowing cap is commonly referred to as "the debt ceiling", and Republicans are promising to fight against raising the ceiling as the 112th Congress begins. The national debt officially hit $14 trillion last weekend and may reach the $14.3 trillion mark as early as March.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said, "Raising the debt ceiling to me is absolutely irresponsible."

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is asking Americans to sign a “Don’t Raise the Debt Ceiling” petition on-line. The petition states, "It’s time to force our elected officials to stop spending cold turkey, and we can start by making sure they do not raise the debt ceiling."

If Republicans are successful in blocking a raise of the debt ceiling, the U.S. could default on its debt for the first time in history. This is either an obvious bluff, or a suicidal plan to destroy America. While I suspect that this is all just empty rhetoric, I find myself wondering if maybe the GOP will deliberately harm America's economy in support of their effort to prevent President Obama from being re-elected in 2012. I also wonder if the American people are smart enough to identify Republican actions as harmful to our nation or if the electorate will place most of the blame on Obama and the Democrats.

Chris Hayes (The Nation) and David Frum ( discussed the Republican bluff on the Rachel Maddow Show on Monday.

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