They’re playing a game of chicken with America
Folks, this is somewhat urgent: Can we stop Congress from causing irreparable damage to our nation’s economy? Is it possible to raise our national debt limit without more of the partisan rancor, blame game or name-calling?
Or will we default on our debts because one side has ruled out putting everything on the table even before real serious negotiations start?
The truth is that we have to raise the debt ceiling to pay our bills. We need to borrow more money to meet our current debts. We don’t have the money on hand, plain and simple. If we do not borrow to pay our debts, our interest rates will rise; loans themselves will dry up. It will be disastrous.
Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner sent lawmakers a letter beseeching their swift action in paying our bills. A default was “unthinkable,” he said, and added that failure to raise the debt could cost “millions of American jobs.”
How bad is that? Maybe we should ask millions of our fellow citizens still struggling to make ends meet just how tough the economy is right now.
Nevertheless, some of our nation’s leaders are choosing to play a game of chicken with America. It’s an exceedingly dangerous game. Moreover, it is treacherous because both major political parties know that just their making the threat to hold our debt payments prisoner resulted in a lower credit rating.
Let there be no error here. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, knows the reckless risks he and his party are taking with our national credit, our economy, with millions of American’s jobs — just so they can shape American in their own image.
It’s true that as a member of the U.S. Senate, President Barack Obama once voted against raising the debt ceiling. Still Democrats helped to move the ball past the goal posts and raised it under President George W. Bush.
Obama admitted that his vote was a mistake. But make no mistake, we cannot afford — coming off the worst recession in a generation to play games with fragile our economic recovery.
Boehner told Fox News’s Chris Wallace that failure to pay our debts “...would be a financial disaster not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy.” He added, “You can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.”
WALLACE: “ So, defaulting on the full faith and credit is unacceptable to you?”
BOEHNER: “I don’t think — I don’t think it’s a question that is even on the table.”
Terrifyingly, playing with the debt limit is very much on the table. The Speaker laid out the Republican plan to play Russian roulette with our good credit in a speech to Wall Street this week.
The Speaker threatened to withhold Republican votes to pay on our debt, without massive concessions from the president. In what amounts to a kidnapping note, Boehner demanded the president hand him everything they command of him — including no tax increases for the wealthy.
World business leaders are not amused with the Republican brinksmanship games. The United States “risks eroding its standing at the core of the global monetary system,” the chief executive of PIMCO, Mohamed El-Erian, wrote in the Financial Times.
Here is what is ripe about Boehner and Cantor’s high-noon show down: Wall Street experts disagree with the Republicans. The facts are, for all the trillions in cuts Boehner demands, the national debt will not be reduced a red cent.
Spending cuts alone don’t pay down debts. We also need economic growth and increased revenue to pay down the national debt. Wednesday we got the news that Obama has reduced our monthly debt by one-half, compared to this time last year. Yet, we still owe $14 trillion.
That means the wealthy must forego their extended tax holiday, which if they don’t, will cost the U.S. Treasury $1.3 trillion in lost revenue.
I’ve never been more serious: What the Republicans are risking with this game of chicken is far more dangerous to our future economic viability and the dream of millions of Americans. Playing this game plays dice with our credit. The announcement of this Republican standoff caused Standard & Poor to downgrade our credit rating April 19.
If the Republicans persist in their game of “dare,” and our credit rating is further downgraded, it will mean “must do” higher taxes across the board — and job losses.
Our nation’s security — all of it — is at risk now, today. The Republicans must stop this game of bullying. President Obama and the Democrats who still run the U.S. Senate must demand that we raise the debt ceiling now.
At this point, being partisan is simply a game. Let’s not hold our nation’s greatest assets — our credit, our jobs and our future — hostage.
Demand the partisans on both sides stop their threats and intimidation, and vote to pay our bills.