And some Tom turkey, too: Finally!
Earlier today, Barack Obama began explaining why it would be crazy to refuse to raise the debt limit. He explained the logic of the situation. He began explaining the harm which could ensue.
This is some, but not all, of what he said today:
OBAMA (1/14/13): Now, the other congressionally imposed deadline coming up is the so-called debt ceiling, something most Americans hadn’t even heard of before two years ago. So I want to be clear about this: The debt ceiling is not a question of authorizing more spending. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.For ourselves, we’ve never believed that the average voter has an emotional or intellectual tie to the time-honored phrase, “the full faith and credit of the United States of America.” We also doubt that average voters understand the concept of “our credit rating being downgraded.”
These are bills that have already been racked up, and we need to pay them. So, while I’m willing to compromise and find common ground over how to reduce our deficits, America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up. If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks, and veterans benefits will be delayed.
We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialist who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money—every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire.
It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit. So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd. As the speaker said two years ago, it would be, and I’m quoting Speaker Boehner now, “a financial disaster, not only for us, but for the worldwide economy.”
So we’ve got to pay our bills. And Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The financial well-being of the American people is not leverage to be used. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly, because time is running short.
The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was downgraded for the first time in our history. Our businesses created the fewest jobs of any month in nearly the past three years, and ironically, the whole fiasco actually added to the deficit.
But in that passage, Obama begins to explain what the GOP is threatening to do—and he starts explaining the types of harm which could result:
We’ve sent our troops to foreign lands—and we might not be able to pay them! Is your mother on Social Security? Those checks might stop coming too!
In response to an early question, Obama explained a bit more:
OBAMA: Chuck, the issue here is whether or not America pays its bills. We are not a deadbeat nation...And, you know, there are no magic tricks here. There are no loopholes. There are no, you know, easy outs. This is a matter of Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend. They tell me, “You need to fund our Defense Department at such-and-such a level, you need to send out Social Security checks, you need to make sure that you are paying to care for our veterans.” They lay all this out for me, because they have the spending power. And so I am required by law to go ahead and pay these bills.One caveat: Congress can do that, of course. We thought we’d point that out.
Separately, they also have to authorize a raising of the debt ceiling in order to make sure that those bills are paid. And so what Congress can’t do is tell me to spend X and then say, “But we’re not going to give you the authority to go ahead and pay the bills.”
A bit later, Obama said it again, although he didn’t explain it fully: “And the consequences of us not paying our bills, as I outlined in my opening statement, would be disastrous.”
Liberals should have been explaining all this for a good time now. Instead, we have clowned around with an idea that sounds even weirder than the idea of not paying our bills. We’ve clowned around with the idea of minting a magical coin.
In our view, Obama started in the right direction today. We offer one word of warning:
If you’re a liberal, your lizard brain is telling you that Obama’s statement makes perfect airtight sense.
Your lizard is wrong. It doesn’t.
Millions of people believe that our deficit spending and debt have become an existential crisis for the nation. This is one of the three million topics we liberals have never stooped to explain during the past thirty years.
To voters who believe such things, the idea of enduring a short-term crisis may not seem mad or insane. And the fact that voters believe these things falls on no one but us.
The liberal world has twiddled its thumbs over the past thirty years. We’ve let the Norquists talk crap to the people—and we’ve been too high-blown to challenge, talk back or explain.
For ourselves, we like Grover Norquist and we admire his energy; it’s just that the things he says and almost surely believes are so crazily wrong. We the liberals are a good deal harder to like or admire. So great, so grand, so self-admiring, we seldom stoop to talk to the people.
Darlings, it just isn’t done!
Grover knows where the people live. When our turn comes, we’re eager to tell the people that they’re just a big gang of racists—and authoritarians too, of course. Before the week is done, we expect to show you how Chris Mooney recently argued that point.
We the liberals lapped it up. It’s how we conspire to lose. It’s how we end up with politically crazy "solutions" like minting a magical coin.
Obama began explaining today. The time is very late.