Wed May 16, 2012, 09:29 AM
babylonsister (145,817 posts)
NYT: Mr. Boehner and the Debt
Mr. Boehner and the Debt
Published: May 15, 2012
It clearly does not bother Speaker John Boehner that he pushed the United States to the brink of default last year. It does not matter that the deep spending cuts in the resolution he demanded to end that crisis will hurt economic growth. It does not even matter that the House he leads is determined now to break that agreement with even deeper cuts in vital programs.
No, Mr. Boehner wants to do it all over again: he announced on Tuesday that the House will not agree to raise the debt ceiling when it is reached later this year or early next, unless the increase is matched by equal spending cuts. “We shouldn’t dread the debt limit,” he said, instantly forcing the country to do just that. “As a matter of fact, I think we should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction.”
An official who actually wanted to help the country rather than appeasing the Tea Party might have remembered what happened a year ago, after Mr. Boehner first made that extortionate demand. The bond rating agencies said the country’s credit and reputation had been seriously damaged, and the government lost its AAA credit rating. (Mr. Boehner shamelessly blamed Mr. Obama for that on Tuesday.) The Federal Reserve warned of “catastrophic” and “calamitous” effects if Republicans carried through on their threat to default. The stock market sank, and Congress’s approval rating has never recovered.
But all Mr. Boehner seems to remember is that he “won,” at least by his crass scoring system. Because the House threat was so serious — and because so many Republicans seemed irresponsible enough to actually carry it out — President Obama and the Democrats were forced to agree to cut $2 trillion from the budget over a decade, a huge Tea Party victory. The White House reduced the damage by sparing some safety-net programs and making sure the military budget bore a fair share of the impact. But the House voted last week to undo even that agreement and make all the cuts from domestic programs, particularly those for the poor and the struggling.
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