As I posted several weeks ago, with polls showing that 70 percent or so of Americans don't want the federal debt ceiling to be raised, congressional leaders had to give their members a chance to oppose an increase so that they had a vote on the record to show their constituents. I said, many representatives and senators were going to have to show they were against it before they ultimatey voted for it.
That's why it was anything but surprising when, as reported in Roll Call, House Republicans announced yesterday that they would bring a "clean" debt ceiling to the House floor next week. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), whose committee has to draft the bill, also said he would -- surprise, surprise -- vote against the bill.
So little time, so many ridiculous statements having to do with the debt ceiling hostage-taking...excuse me, I mean "debate"...that need to be debunked, demystified, and discredited. That's what I tried to do in today's Roll Call.
Beware False Preaching About Debt Ceiling
May 24, 2011, Midnight
It obviously would have been a terrible event for the human race if the world had ended Saturday as some had prophesied, but it might not have been all that bad from a federal budget perspective. Not only would the hand wringing over the debt ceiling have been immediately rendered trivial, the Rapture actually could have had a positive impact on the situation if the big overseas owners of Treasuries had all been called to heaven.
My column from today's Roll Call explains why House Speaker John Boehner is going to need lots of Democratic votes to pass a debt ceiling....and why that puts House Democrats in a much better position for this debate than they were in for the continuing resolution.
The Debt Ceiling Battle From 30,000 Feet
May 17, 2011, Midnight
The U.S. Treasury said the existing federal debt ceiling was reached Monday. That means that the nation is about to enter the two-and-a-half-month period during which Treasury says it will have to resort to various techniques to manage the government’s finances without borrowing.
If you can avoid getting down in the weeds of the debate, the big-picture view of what’s ahead is not that difficult to analyze.
The bond market vigilantes, the group that according to legend forced Washington in the 1990s to turn its attention to reducing the deficit and whose return has been predicted ever since the red ink came back with a vengeance during the George W. Bush administration, will likely make it's long-anticipated re-appearance in the next few weeks as Wall Street and the budget world turn their attention to the soon-to-be-needed increase in the federal debt ceiling.
Except that the bond market vigilantes are likely to be saying some thing completely different from what deficit hawks have been expecting. Instead of doing what they did before by demanding deficit reductions, today's bond market vigilantes are far more likely to be insisting that the federal debt ceiling be raised whether or not the spending cuts and revenue increases some are saying is the precondition for their vote ever materialize.
In other words, screw the deficit.
Over at The Washington Post, Matt Miller has a wonderful column that says what needs to be said about the current budget debate as directly and angrily as it can be stated: "“The House Republican budget adds $6 trillion to the debt in the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit."
The supposedly “courageous,” “visionary” Paul Ryan plan — which already contains everything Republicans can think of in terms of these spending cuts — would add more debt than we’ve ever seen over a 10-year period in American history.
The classic definition of chutzpah was a kid who kills his parents and then asks for the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. The new definition of chutzpah is Republicans who vote for the Ryan plan that adds trillions in debt and who then say the debt limit goes up only over their dead bodies!