Sprinkles from the Left

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.75 minutes to read.

““My advice to this Democratic government, the president, the House and Senate: Don’t play Russian roulette with our economy,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday. “Step up and raise the debt ceiling and cover all that you’ve been engaged in all year long.”

That’s not how any of this works. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote to House Democrats last weekend, “The debt limit is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, in that spirit, on a bipartisan basis as it has in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.”

That bipartisanship is crucial, as it’s usually how any move on the debt ceiling proceeds. Which makes McConnell’s Wednesday statement ridiculous, especially considering that just two days before, he declared that Democrats “will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit.”

Also contrary to McConnell’s irresponsible natterings, raising the debt ceiling is not giving Congress a blank check for future spending. It is an increase in the legal limit on how much the federal government can borrow to pay for what it has already bought…

In Washington, everything’s a game. The battles seem remote, the consequences nonexistent. But McConnell is right about one thing. Not raising the debt ceiling is a dangerous game of Russian roulette with our economy. But by withholding Republican votes to raise it, he’s the one holding the gun.”

–Johnathan Capehart, Washington Post Opinion

“In a political system beset by many stupid and destructive institutions, the statutory limit on federal debt might be the worst. The debt limit:

  • Measures no coherent economic value. The measure of debt it targets is not inflation-adjusted… and ignores trillions of dollars in assets held by the federal government.
  • Has no relationship to any economic stressor facing the country—over the past 25 years, as the nominal federal debt rose from $5 trillion to $22.7 trillion, debt service payments (required interest payments on debt) shrank almost in half, from 3.0% of GDP to 1.8%.
  • Can cause real damage if it’s not lifted in the next couple of weeks. It would only take a couple of months of missing federal payments due to the debt ceiling to mechanically send the economy into recession…
  • Has been used time and time again to enforce misguided austerity policies. The 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) grew directly out of a GOP Congress threatening to not raise the debt ceiling absent spending cuts. The BCA provided an anti-stimulus about twice as large as the stimulus provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is largely responsible for the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession.

Given all of this, the debt ceiling should be abolished or neutralized in absolutely any way politically possible. It serves no good economic purpose and plenty of malign ones.”

–Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute

Sprinkles from the Right

⏰🚀 Ready, Set, Go: These opinions take 1.74 minutes to read.

“Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress. As the majority they can pass an increase in the U.S. federal debt limit as part of their budget bill without a single Republican vote. Yet Democrats are insisting that Republicans provide votes to give them political cover in raising the limit.

That’s the bottom line on the latest political theater unfolding in Washington over raising the statutory debt limit. The Treasury is playing its familiar perils-of-full-faith-and-credit song. Captains of industry are calling default unthinkable, unconscionable, un-whatever-able. So why aren’t Democrats, who have the power, raising the limit and saving the world from supposed catastrophe?

The answer is that they don’t want to be solely responsible for casting a vote that acknowledges all of the spending and borrowing that Congress does. They want GOP fingerprints on the fiscal knife. It’s a made-for-TV melodrama…

The GOP needn’t fall for this. The voters know Democrats run the government, and if some cataclysm unfolds as a result of government failure, Democrats will deservedly get the blame. Elections have consequences, and one of them is taking hard votes to finance the spending that Congress passes.

If Democrats really want GOP cooperation, they could drop their radical $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend plan, settle for the victory of passing the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill, and move on to more constructive pursuits. But as long as Democrats are freezing Republicans out of their entitlement blowout, and refusing to make any budget-reform compromises, they can’t expect Republicans to spare them the responsibility of raising the debt limit.

Democrats own the government. Cut the “we’re helpless” act and raise the debt limit.”

–WSJ Editorial Board

“If you look at the issue from the perspective of [Senate] Republicans, you can see why Democratic efforts to shame them into voting to raise the debt limit are failing…

The potential political cost of the Republicans’ current stance — you guys raise the debt limit without our help — is that it makes them look irresponsible. But voters have not held debt brinkmanship against the parties that engage in it. Democrats won a landslide victory in the 2006 midterms after Biden and Obama voted to let the government hit the debt ceiling. Republicans brought on a government shutdown and flirted with a debt default in 2013, and were rewarded with their own landslide in the 2014 midterms. An actual default might play out differently, but Republicans seem to think the Democrats will find a way to avoid one.

The political incentives for Republicans line up pretty strongly against cooperating in what they know needs to be done. That’s the problem with having a debt limit on the books in the first place: It regularly creates situations in which politicians… don’t have an individual interest in helping the country avoid harm.”

–Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg Opinion