Republicans are once again threatening not to pay off Congress’ existing bills by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless… (insert Tea Party cause du jour). The problem is not only do polls show that the public will blame them much more than they will blame President Obama, but the deficit is on track to be the the smallest it’s been in five years.
The deficit shrank 35% from last year, which puts it on track to be the smallest in five years, according to the AP. “The U.S. government posted a narrower budget deficit in August compared with a year ago, keeping the annual gap on track to be the smallest in five years. The deficit for August was $147.9 billion, the Treasury reported Friday. That brought the annual budget gap through the first 11 months to $755 billion, or 35 percent lower than the nearly $1.2 trillion in red ink for the same period last year.”
The deficit is the yearly difference between what we take in with revenues (taxes) and what we spend, and each year’s deficit gets added to our debt. The debt ceiling gets raised to pay off spending that Congress has already authorized, so not raising it is akin to threatening your credit card company that you won’t pay your bill unless something they give you something totally unrelated, something you have always wanted, like say PS4.
Try it and see how it goes. Your point should be that you will not do what you promised to do unless you get a toy – an incentive – to do your part. You can explain to the credit card company with much smug delight that since they already gave you the money, you hold the upper hand: It’s the Play Station or nothing.
Republicans are threatening not to raise the debt ceiling unless funding for Obamacare is delayed. The thing is, the Tea Party was none-too-pleased with this debt ceiling appeasement because it was only a trick. You see, Republicans were going to crash the economy just to appease the Tea Party and conservative donors who want Obamacare destroyed. But Republicans knew that they could not destroy ObamaCare — thus, they are going to destroy the economy just to save their own face.
Yes, even talking about not raising the debt ceiling creates instability and chaos, neither of which are good for the market. But the last time Republicans did this, it cost us an estimated 18.9 billion dollars.
So their argument is that they are going to hold the debt ceiling hostage at a time when the deficit is at a five year low, because they lack the courage to explain to their base and their funders that the ObamaCare fight is over.
Is it hard to fear-monger a deficit that hit a five year low? Probably not, since Republicans are so good at pretending that Saint Reagan did not raise the debt ceiling three times more than Obama and a large portion of the debt isn’t from two unfunded Bush wars (that Obama put back on the budget, as if he were the fiscal conservative) and unfunded Medicare Part D prescription plan.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.