John Boehner, Saboteur
There are two money quotes in a column by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers on Bloomberg about the extreme debt ceiling threat House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) unilaterally decided to issue a few weeks (ht Mark Thoma):
High-frequency data on consumer confidence from the research company Gallup, based on surveys of 500 Americans daily, provide a good picture of the (previous) debt-ceiling debate’s impact (see chart). Confidence began falling right around May 11, when Boehner first announced he would not support increasing the debt limit. It went into freefall as the political stalemate worsened through July. Over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008. After July 31, when the deal to break the impasse was announced, consumer confidence stabilized and began a long, slow climb that brought it back to its starting point almost a year later.
All told, the data tell us that a debt-ceiling standoff is an act of economic sabotage.
So just threatening another fight over the debt ceiling as Boehner does definite and almost immediate harm to the U.S. economy. As I said when Boehner announced that he again was going to hold the debt ceiling hostage, the threat would be reckless if it came from someone in the rank and file. But, at a minimum, it's totally irresponsible when it comes from the speaker of the House or Representatives, the person who according to the U.S. Constitution is second in line behind the vice president to become the president.
Given the damage to the economy Stevenson and Wolfers cite in their column, does anyone wonder how long it would take for someone on Capital Hill to be calling for a president's impeachment if he or she threatened to use the debt ceiling as Boehner is now doing?