Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia raised an interesting point this morning about the Republican debt-ceiling hostage crisis.
To translate this a bit, Chambliss is embracing the hostage strategy with both arms. From 1939 to 2010, the debt ceiling was raised without preconditions by both parties 89 times, but in 2013, Chambliss and his cohorts are demanding a ransom: painful-but-unspecified cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
And if the president refuses to meet the Republicans’ demands, and GOP policymakers follow through on their threats, Chambliss thinks it’s Obama who’ll “suffer the consequences.”
Except, whether he understands the issue or not, Chambliss is mistaken. If Republicans refuse to allow the nation to pay for the money it’s already spent, and in the process push the nation into default by trashing the full faith and credit of the United States, it’s not the president who’ll “suffer the consequences”; it’s the rest of us.
Obama will be fine. Chances are, Saxby Chambliss will get by, too. But if Republicans refuse to do their duty, conditions for the national and global economy will get “very bad, very fast,” including “financial-market chaos.”
“Think about what we’re talking about here,” Steve Bell, director of economic policy at the BPC, told Ezra Klein yesterday. “We’re talking about the reserve currency of the world. We’re talking about the deepest and most liquid markets in the world. And we’re sitting here wondering if we’ll cover our obligations?”
The consequences would be brutal and long-lasting. America’s reputation, global standing, and stability would very likely never – ever – be the same.
So, Sen. Chambliss should probably take five minutes to understand that the fire he’s playing with is catastrophically dangerous. Because at this point, the Republican senator isn’t just threatening to hurt America on purpose, he’s under the misguided impression that Obama’s the one who’ll suffer.