Throwing down the gauntlet, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint threatened Monday to block a vote in Congress on raising the U.S. debt ceiling unless he wins a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
For real? Hmmm…. or is this just more political theater?
“The issue here is the debt ceiling has to be raised, and it cannot be held hostage to a process that is very complicated and difficult,” he (WH spokesman Jay Carney) said. “We hope we will reach an agreement on deficit reduction — a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction within the time frame. We believe that’s possible.”
Actually, that’s not true. The debt ceiling does not have to be raised. However, not doing so would force an immediate balanced budget. The Treasury could not spend more than it takes in, whether Congress appropriated it or not.
It is important to note that this is not a default.
Default is when you don’t pay the interest and principal you owe. Default is not failing to keep political promises.
Geithner said repeatedly Sunday that lawmakers who want to take the country to the “brink” will bear the responsibility for the risk that creates.
Such a filibuster, especially a successful filibuster that is not some sort of kafkaesque political theater, risks my voting for them, donating to their campaigns, trumpeting their serious approach to the problem and writing about them in extended glowing, favorable terms.
He suggested that merely flirting with that edge would create a problem. But he said if Congress ultimately rejects an increase in the debt limit, it would trigger a crisis that makes that 2008 meltdown look tame. Geithner reiterated warnings that such a vote would force the government to halt benefits payments to seniors and veterans and would risk the government defaulting on its interest.
It would force the government to live within its means.
What Treasury would then pay and not pay is not Congress’ to determine on its own. Congress of course would have a voice in this, and could start “zeroing” things that do not perform a useful function.
Such a refusal to raise the debt limit, however, would not force a default on the interest and principal. It would not prevent rollover of existing debt. And it would not necessarily halt payments to seniors and veterans – although it would force reductions across-the-board.
How much? By about 43%.
Such a change would be the best thing that could happen to this nation since before the passage of the 17th Amendment, which was the single worst legislative event in the history of the country.
(The 17th Amendment destroyed the premise of a bicameral Legislature; one house beholden to the people, the other to the States. It was, with the stroke of a pen, an irrevocable and, in my opinion, ultimately fatal change to our Constitution. Prior to the 17th Amendment it was impossible for The Federal Government to cram programs down the States’ throats as they couldn’t get through the Senate.)
Let’s see if Jim DeMint has the balls to follow through.
Oh, and as for Rand Paul? He’s got his finger in the air – exactly as I expected:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said it’s “yet to be determined” whether he would support a filibuster on the debt ceiling vote.
(Yet another) empty suit.
Go Jim DeMint!