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Thu Oct 10, 2013, 09:44 AM

Nicholas Kristof: Gang of 40 [View all]


Gang of 40
Published: October 9, 2013 153 Co


What’s most troubling about the mess is the way the extremists downplay the risks of running into the debt limit. Astonishingly, Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida veterinarian, says that missing the debt ceiling deadline “would bring stability to world markets.”

Or there’s Senator Rand Paul, who said that not raising the debt limit could be reframed as “a pretty reasonable idea.” Even Senator Tom Coburn says it wouldn’t be so bad to miss the debt-limit deadline and face a “managed catastrophe.”

There’s now a right-wing echo chamber, shaped by Fox News Channel and Web sites like RedState, that repeats such nonsense until it acquires a patina of plausibility — and thus makes a catastrophe more difficult to avoid. A Pew Research Center poll this month found that 54 percent of Republicans believe that the United States can miss the debt-limit deadline without major problems.


The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank, calculates that the 2011 debt-ceiling confrontation will, over a decade, cost American taxpayers an extra $18.9 billion.

And that was the price tag for a crisis in which the debt-limit deadline was eventually met. If this deadline is missed, the costs in higher interest rates in the years ahead will be billions more.

Members of the Gang of 40 are unwilling to pay for early childhood education, but they’re O.K. with paying untold billions for a government shutdown and debt-limit crisis? That’s not governance, but extremism.

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freshwest Oct 2013 #1