Debt ceiling debate: GOP House holding own budget hostage

Paul Krugman made an excellent point this morning on ABC’s THIS WEEK about the upcoming debt ceiling hostage crisis.

Krugman asked why the Republicans were holding the debt ceiling increase hostage when the President was simply spending money that they, congress, had already appropriated?

The thing you have to understand is that the debt ceiling is a fundamentally stupid, but dangerous thing. We have congress that tells the president how much he must spend, tells him how much he’s allowed to collect in taxes. He says OK, there’s a difference there, I’ve got to borrow it. And they say, no, you can’t borrow them.

So the whole debt ceiling thing itself is a crazy thing. It actually forces the president to do something illegal, either to defy congress on what it told him to spend or to defy congress and borrow when it told him not to.

In other words, the President wasn’t asking to add to the US national debt.  Congress had already added to it when it passed the budget and appropriations bills.  The President was simply asking to spend the money Congress had already given him, and given him permission to spend.

Bribe corrupt politician debt ceiling

Corruption via Shutterstock

The appropriate time for the Republicans to fight against “deficits” is when they pass the budget and the appropriations bills. But they lost those fights – or rather, they’re always in favor of deficits when they’re in the budget and the appropriations bills (e.g., the Republicans were the ones who created most of the deficit, what with the Bush tax cuts and Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq).

But it’s not just about taxes, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Republicans have controlled the House for several years now.  They had their chance to go after the deficit, and they punted.  But now, with the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling, suddenly they’re deficit hawks.

Senator Manchin

Senator Manchin

One man’s deficit hawk is another’s deficit w*ore.  Far too many politicians in Washington aren’t in the game for sincerity’s-sake.  They’re there to do the bidding of the highest bidder, be it the banks, Big Pharma or the NRA.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when their positions on issues like the debt are internally inconsistent.  Their positions are consistent in the only way that matters to most in Washington – they’re consistently aligned with big-monied special interest groups (we’re talking about you, Senator Manchin (D-NRA)).


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QH25RVNTUIAU7HT6DQ7CONEO2U havasu46

    The Republicans want to keep spending defense dollars on their Christian Crusades while telling people that they don’t deserve their Medicare and Socail Security benefits. Well why don’t the same majority of Americans that voted for Obama say we’re not filing our 2012 Foorm 1040 until you raise the debit ceiling and let’s see how you fight those wars without the money to buy bullets, drones and gasoline.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    But here’s the thing: Obama cannot actually cut those programs. He’s bound by law to spend every penny allocated for them by Congress.

    What he can do is agree to cuts passed by Congress. More to the point, what they’re trying to do is make him take the blame.

    However, you’re right: We have GOPers who want to do away with the social safety net, and Dems who “merely” want to shred it.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Whenever one of these morons spouts the usually happy horseshit about “Obama’s spending is out of control” — well, you can be certain you are indeed listening to an ignorant moron who has no idea how the U.S. gov’t budget process actually works.

  • cambridgemac

    This seems pretty simple to me. The Repukes want the President – or Democrats – to do their dirty work for them, that is, to cut popular social programs.

    They voted to fund these programs – and are now trying to force Obama to cut them. (He won’t dare cut the imperial war budget, ’cause Dems are ascared to do that kind of thing.)

    Once the Dems further trim the tattered social safety net, there will be an increase in the sense of hopelessness and inevitiability and passivity that the Repukes count on. Plus, it’s already worked a couple of times – so why not? 25 years ago this strategy would have seemed improbable, if not insane. But we have 25 years of Dems giving away the store and making life safe for Wall Street – and getting million dollar jobs when they leave Congress. Or, in Clinton’s case, $80 million in 12 years.

    Nice work if you can get it.

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