In 2011, White House speechwriter Jon Favreau penned some ominous words predicting the disastrous effects of a failure to raise the debt limit, including indefinite delays on Social Security checks and halted troop pay and veterans' benefits. President Obama never had to give the speech, because the debt ceiling was raised "at the last possible moment," Favreau recounts in the Daily Beast—but the showdown still caused serious issues like the downgrading of the US credit rating.
"The obvious lesson from this entirely self-inflicted fiasco is never, ever to treat America’s bill-paying authority as a bargaining chip in political negotiations," Favreau writes. But House Republicans haven't learned the lesson, and once again they're holding the economy hostage to their demands. Because of the language we use to discuss it, many people think that raising the ceiling is "a green light to pile up more debt," while "breaching the debt limit would trigger an economic shutdown of epic proportions." So let's call Republicans what they are, says Favreau: "Hostage takers, unrepresentative of the once-proud Republican Party, and unfit to govern the greatest nation on Earth." Click for his full column. Meanwhile, in the New York Times, Paul Krugman agrees:
- Failure to hike the limit would be a "financial catastrophe," not only returning us to a likely recession but also shaking faith in US bonds—the "bedrock on which the world financial system rests."