Mutually Assured Self-Destruction

— by Steve Sheffey

The debt ceiling should be raised or eliminated.

The Republicans will play the same partisan games they played with their manufactured fiscal cliff crisis (that they did build).  Raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money; it simply allows the government to pay money it already owes. How can anyone be against that? Not raising the debt ceiling would be terrible for the economy. But the Republicans will threaten not to raise the debt ceiling, putting all of us at risk, to get the spending cuts that are at the heart of the Tea Party agenda. Walter Dellinger came up with a great analogy:

I don’t see why either political party or either branch of government should gain any leverage by threatening economic harm to the United States of America whose financial management is the mutual responsibility of each of them.

The whole thing reminds me of the great moment in “Blazing Saddles” when Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage by pointing a gun at his own head. The simple townsfolk of Rock Ridge were dumb enough to fall for it. Are we?

More after the jump.
Steve Benen sums it up perfectly:

Let me say this as plainly as I can: congressional Republicans are threatening to hurt Americans on purpose. They can rationalize the need for the threat, and perhaps even justify to themselves why the threat has merit, but that doesn’t change the basic fact that GOP officials know the debt ceiling must be raised, they know failing to do so would trash the full faith and credit of the United States and likely cause catastrophic harm to the economy, they know lawmakers in both parties routinely raised the debt ceiling 89 times without precondition between 1939 and 2010, and yet, they’re going through with this anyway.

There’s nothing normal about this, and if the political establishment treats it as yet another partisan dispute, it will get this story wrong. In 2011, when Republicans created a brutal debt-ceiling, it not only damaged the country, it was the first time since the Civil War when an entire political party threatened, en masse, to do deliberate harm to the nation. And now, even after faring poorly in national elections, Republicans are poised to commit an act of political violence all over again.

The debt ceiling used to be routinely raised; now it’s a vehicle for political gamesmanship. It serves no useful purpose. We ought to just eliminate it.  

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