A Clean Debt Limit Bill Is The Only Acceptable Path

Dave Johnson

Republicans took the unemployed hostage and won huge tax cuts for the rich that greatly worsened the deficits. Then they took the government hostage, threatening to shut it down if they didn’t get what they wanted, and won big concessions. Now they are threatening to take the full faith and credit of the United States hostage by blocking the debt ceiling increase. There is only one way to fight this: demand a “clean” debt ceiling increase — no cuts, no concessions and especially no more cave-ins.

The official US Government policy on hostage-taking is, “to deny hostage takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession.”

The reason for this policy is that if you give in you are only encouraging more of the same.

Last Year’s Hostage: The Unemployed

At the end of last year Republicans took the unemployed “hostage” and refused to extend unemployment benefits unless the President agreed to continue the huge Bush tax cuts for the rich. President Obama gave in, agreed to extend the tax cuts for the rich, which led to a terrible increase in the deficits. And of course this only encouraged more hostage-taking, each time with greater threats and demands.

At the time, in Stop The Next Bad Deal: The Debt Ceiling Fight, I suggested,

If you think the tax cut fight led to a bad deal… it may also lead to an expectation by conservatives they will finally be able to cut, gut or shut the government in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling. The President and Democrats in Congress should take steps now to keep them from thinking they can win that.

Early next year the country’s debt ceiling has to be raised – or else. Conservatives are likely to push for “or else” and hold the “full faith and credit of the United States” hostage to their demands to gut the middle class and democratic government. They will claim they want “budget cuts” because of the deficit but the results of the tax cut fight — $700 billion more borrowing – show that cutting deficits is not their real agenda. Plutocracy – government of, by and for the wealthy few – is their agenda and they are willing to threaten the world economy to get what they want.

The post concluded,

They are going to do this. They are going to take the biggest hostage ever. You can stop this. Democrats in the House are at the maximum leverage point. You can stop this. You can literally save the country by demanding the debt ceiling be increased in exchange for this tax-cut deal and the huge amount of debt it adds.

Also at the time I posted, Extend Unemployment Benefits Not Tax Cuts For Wealthy, which included a chart of the number of people unemployed for 26 weeks or longer: (click to enlarge)

The chart of unemployment was followed with a chart showing members of Congress receiving their special employment benefits from Wall Street: (don’t click the pig is big enough already)

Democrats could have stopped the hostage-taking in its tracks by not giving in. They gave in. So then came…

Then The Shutdown Threat

More recently there was the “government shutdown” threat. Republicans, invigorated after winning tax cuts that dramatically increased the deficits threated to shut down the government unless Democrats agrees to severe cuts

In the post, Republican Shutdown Shuts Down The Economy — So Do The Cuts They Demand, I wrote that the should demand a “clean” continuing resolution, because,

We have a normal budget process, but Republicans refuse to follow it. Normally a “Continuing Resolution” continues the current budget until a new budget passes through the budget process. That’s why it is called a Continuing Resolution.

The President and Democrats in Congress should have demanded that they just follow the normal budget process. That is a clear and simple message. Instead they gave in to the hostage-takers. So now…

Now A Threat To Force Government Bond Default

Every time they take hostages they get what they want. So guess what they do? OK, I’ll give you a hint: they take even more hostages!!! But this time it is the big enchilada. This time the hostage is the full faith and credit of the United States. Yes, they are taking the validity of the public debt of the United States and putting it into question, as it\n US Constitution, Amendment 14, section 4: “The validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

They are threatening to block the increase in the debt ceiling so the US government cannot pay what it owes on its bonds. Unless the President and Democrats in Congress cave in and pay them whatever ransom they demand.

Put A Stop To Hostage-Taking

President Obama, please put a halt to this government-by-hostage-taking. It is hurting all of us. Giving in time after time only encourages more hostage taking.

Obama you got Osama, so now you are in a position of strength. Demand a “clean” debt-ceiling bill: no cuts, no concessions and especially no more cave-ins.

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