Why Aren’t the Democrats Playing?
The games surrounding the debt ceiling continue, but only one side is playing. Few believe the Republicans will actually force the radical, damaging spending changes that failing to raise the debt ceiling would eventually make necessary. If not, then why do they continue to try to force President Obama to accept their proposal, which is an amount of spending cuts equal to any debt ceiling increase?
Better question: why don’t Obama and the Democrats take the question straight to the people?
As reported by The Washington Post, “Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) said she had drafted a letter to Obama asking for a detailed deficit-reduction plan that could be evaluated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and for a contingency plan in case Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2.” Well, why not?
As I wrote previously, this is an astonishing opportunity to make political hay. The Democrats’ argument needs only two thrusts to be enormously powerful:
- The obligations of the United States to the holders of our bonds are sacrosanct, guaranteed by the Constitution, and will be met without any delay whatsoever. This would calm financial markets, which grow increasingly jittery as evidenced by Thursday’s warning by Moody’s of a potential downgrade of our creditworthiness.
- The spending cuts required would not just damage the gathering economic recovery, but also would devastate seniors, damage our military effectiveness and reputation, and blow holes in state budgets across the country. There’s simply no other option; this year we’ll spend more than our revenues just on debt service, defense, Medicare, and Social Security. We could shut down all Medicaid support for the states, all spending on children’s health and nutrition programs, all unemployment support, all food safety programs, all consumer protection programs, the FBI, the FAA, and the national parks, and it wouldn’t be enough.
It’s time the Democrats showed they can play this game too.