Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, penned an editorial in USA Today this morning, urging Congress to do its job as the Treasury runs out of borrowing authority on November 3, in just 8 days. We reached the debt limit in March, so it’s not like this is shocking news. Now, down to the wire again, thanks to Republicans who are hoping to hold the economy hostage just to get a new toy they haven’t earned, Treasury is getting all beggy.
It’s not like this is news to the Republican-led Congress, as Lew has explained to them over and over again. He wrote, “Since we reached the debt limit in March, Treasury has been using extraordinary measures to borrow money and pay our bills. Each time that we have new information on the debt limit, I share it with Congress, as only it has the ability to take the necessary action. Most recently, I notified Congress that we will run out of extraordinary measures no later than Nov. 3. My first letter was seven months ago, and now we have eight days, as of Monday, before we exhaust our borrowing authority.”
Lew felt the need to do the equivalent of talking slowly, apparently, by explaining to these very unpopular knuckle-draggers that they are not cutting spending by refusing to pay our bills. What they are doing is running out on a bill they already incurred. He wrote, “Increasing the debt limit does not authorize future spending or fund new programs — it merely enables us to pay the obligations that Congress has already incurred. This includes paying the salaries of our troops, providing benefits to veterans and Social Security recipients, and reimbursing hospitals for taking care of the sick. One former Republican governor likened refusing to raise the debt limit to eating a meal and leaving a restaurant without paying. In this case, the full faith and credit of the United States is at stake.”
Oh, just the full faith and credit of the U.S.? That won’t matter to the Republicans. It didn’t before and it won’t now, because in spite of their flag waving, these folks have gone out of their way to troll this country since they got elected.
Even if they raise it at the last minute, all of this “dangerous brinkmanship” can do serious harm, Lew warned:
In both recent debt limit standoffs, Congress waited until the last minute before voting to raise the debt limit. We learned that this dangerous brinkmanship can do real harm to consumer and business confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers and hurt our credit rating. In 2011, the United States credit rating was downgraded for the first time when Congress came dangerously close to causing a default. In previous debt limit impasses, we also saw increased financial market volatility, widening credit spreads and a decline in stock prices — all of which translates into real problems for Main Street by lowering household wealth and increasing borrowing costs for businesses. According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, the 2013 debt limit impasse cost the American taxpayer between $38 million and $70 million in additional borrowing costs alone. We should never allow uncertainty surrounding the debt limit to imperil the U.S. and global economy, but that’s especially true at a time when our nation is seen as the source of strength in the global economy.
If your retirement portfolio is sinking, you can thank a Republican. They are trying to defund Planned Parenthood over a video that never proved anything remotely close to what they claimed it did; thus, they are betting that you won’t mind giving up your household savings just so they can prove a false point. Again.
This is “profoundly irresponsible”, Lew chastised, including a math lesson for the Republicans, for whom math is often challenging:
Unless Congress acts, after Nov. 3 we will be running the government on only the cash currently available, a profoundly irresponsible course of action. By that date, we estimate that we will have less than $30 billion cash available to fund a nearly $4 trillion enterprise — clearly not enough when our net expenditures can reach as much as $60 billion on some days. No sensible business would run itself this way, and the federal government should be no different.
Tick tock. Time is a wasting. The likelihood of the House passing anything that is actually part of Congress’ duties, like raising the debt ceiling, is looking a bit grim. Meanwhile, the Senate is becoming as dysfunctional as the House now that Republicans are in charge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can’t even get an Obamacare repeal act through the GOP-led Senate right now.
Brace yourselves for another Republican deliberately inflicted wound.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ 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.