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.
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.
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)).