Obama Must Call GOP's 'Bluff' on Debt Ceiling

Can't let hostage-holding House run the country: Paul Krugman

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 16, 2011 11:35 AM CDT | Updated May 16, 2011 1:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – Look out, President Obama: House Republicans have created another “hostage situation.” This time, they’re holding the debt ceiling for a ransom of big spending cuts, writes Paul Krugman in the New York Times. The Republican Party doesn't control the White House or the Senate, so you wouldn’t think the party could “impose its agenda on the nation. But the modern GOP doesn’t believe in following normal rules.” And don't be swayed by what those on the right are saying, Krugman contends: If we don't raise the debt ceiling, bad, bad things will happen.

Hitting it would mean a stop to Social Security, Medicare, or military-related payments. But if Obama treats the failure to raise it as an outcome “to be avoided at all cost,” he’s giving the GOP complete control. Republicans might not be as willing to hit the ceiling as they suggest: Businesses and the Chamber of Commerce, for example, don’t like the idea. “But the president can’t call the extortionists’ bluff unless he’s willing to confront them, and accept the associated risks,” Krugman notes. “The president has to draw a line" in the sand. "Otherwise, he might as well move out of the White House, and hand the keys over to the Tea Party.”

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) addresses the Economic Club of New York on May 9, 2011 in New York City.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) addresses the Economic Club of New York on May 9, 2011 in New York City.   (Getty Images)
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If the president and his allies operate on the principle that failure to raise the debt ceiling is an unthinkable outcome, to be avoided at all cost, then they have ceded all power to those willing to bring that outcome about. - Paul Krugman

In effect, they will have ripped up the Constitution and given control over the government to a party that only controls one house of Congress, but claims to be willing to bring down the economy unless it gets what it wants. - Paul Krugman

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