Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago when he argued that if Congress instigated a sovereign debt crisis on purpose, it “would bring stability to the world markets.” Shortly thereafter, he told Jake Tapper that the U.S. has routinely pierced the debt ceiling without incident – apparently unaware of the “extraordinary measures” adopted by the Treasury Department to prevent a catastrophe.
Yoho has since had plenty of time to familiarize himself with the basics, but as he demonstrated at a town-hall meeting earlier this week in his Florida district, the congressman just doesn’t want to.
He said that raising the debt ceiling won’t help the US economy improve.“If raising the debt ceiling was the answer, we wouldn’t have this discussion because we’ve raised it 14 times since 2001,” Yoho said, “and all we’ve done is gain more debt and more interest on our debt.”
Let’s draw an important distinction between ignorance and willful ignorance. It’s unrealistic to think every member of Congress can keep up with the relevant policy details of every issue; there’s just too much to cover.
But when lawmakers are tackling an important issue, and they choose to remain ignorant of the basics, it’s probably time for them to reconsider whether a career in public service was the right call.
In this case, Yoho thinks debt-ceiling increases don’t improve the economy. But he’s still confused – no one argues that the economy gets better if the nation pays its bill; the argument is that failing to pay our bills would cause economic catastrophe. It’s really not that complicated.
Does Yoho not have an aide or a friend who can take him aside and explain this?