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It’s increasingly clear that Republican leaders are bluffing when they threaten to destroy the full faith and credit of the American government by allowing the debt ceiling to be shattered unless draconian budget cuts are made.

And a clear bluff is a bad bluff. There is no need to concede to any of their demands to protect American credit and the global economy.

Last year, the now-Speaker John Boehner said Republicans would have to deal with the debt ceiling like “adults.”

And this week, the House Budget Chair Paul Ryan admitted that: “You can’t not raise the debt ceiling. Default is the unworkable solution.”

Leading conservative strategist William Kristol called Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s petition to break the debt ceiling “silly” and “irresponsible.”

Most notably, conservative pundit and strategist Charles Krauthammer flat out admitted the threat is a bluff, on Fox News:

The Republicans have to be careful here. In the end the debt limit will be raised. You can’t not pass it. It is catastrophic. It means American debt is in question. It can’t happen.

So when Republicans make demands on this, they have to have it in the back, if the demands are seen as unreasonable and too far of a reach, Obama could call their bluff.

And then the reaction would be to blame the Republicans.

And of course, the Republican would deserve the blame in more ways than one. Increasing the debt ceiling is not about giving the Democrats more power to create new debt. It’s about dealing with all the old debt that Republicans piled on in the past decade. As the New York Times reported:

An increase in the debt limit is essential for the government to borrow to meet its obligations, but it is adamantly opposed by the Tea Party movement and other small-government conservatives.

While they complain that lifting the limit enables new spending, mostly it allows the government to cover existing commitments, including trillions of dollars run up when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House from 2001 to 2007.

To recap:

Conservatives created trillions in debt.

Conservatives refuse to take any responsibility for creating trillions in debt.

Conservatives threaten to refuse to pay back creditors for the trillions in debt they created.

Conservatives admit their threats are empty bluffs, but hope you will give in to their demands anyway.

There is no reason to allow conservatives to use the upcoming debt ceiling vote for blackmailing the rest of us to accept economically reckless deficit reduction.

The deficit debate should be kept completely separate from the debt ceiling vote, free from blackmail threats.

Insist upon an increase of the debt ceiling without any other issues added to the bill, safe in the knowledge that enough conservatives will back down from their threats, just as they said they will.

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