Thursday, December 6, 2012

Debt Ceiling

Today's lede unsigned editorial in the New York Times addresses the GOP strategy of refusing to raise the debt limit next year in order to secure what they cannot during the fiscal cliff negotiations currently underway.  The editorial reminds readers that the last time Republicans in the House resorted to debt-limit brinkmanship the government lost its AAA rating, an "episode [that] cost the Treasury $1.3 billion in higher borrowing costs in 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office. Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that the 10-year cost of higher interest rates was $18.9 billion."

The editorial mentions Grover Norquist's advice that the debt limit be raised a month at a time so as to maximize Republican jihadi leverage.  Then comes a description of Geithner's proposal to do away with future debt-ceiling fiascoes by giving the president authority to raise the limit, barring a two-thirds override by Congress.

The debt ceiling does not cover future borrowing; it covers what Congress has already voted to spend.  So at the very least one can say that it is negligent behavior to approve spending then refuse to pay for it.

The editorial ends with suggestions on how to handle the Mad Mullahs in the House if they insist on defaulting the government: first, mobilize the citizenry; next, "If nothing else works, [Mr. Obama] should cite the 14th Amendment’s ban on questioning the public debt, and declare an end to the debt ceiling once and for all. The country can no longer tolerate government by brinkmanship and extortion."

Also in today's paper a "Debt Reckoning" sidebar from Peter Baker offering details on the across the board budget cuts to take effect once we go off the cliff: Pentagon, 9.4%; most domestic programs, 8.2%; Medicare, 2%; Social Security, 0%.

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