Several Republican lawmakers said Sunday they plan to vote against raising the federal debt limit to force the government to fix its finances — although most economists say that would send the U.S. into default. White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee says he doesn't think the Republicans — including several aligned with the Tea Party, along with moderate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — will really play "chicken" with the U.S. economy, because doing so would cause "a worse financial economic crisis than anything we saw in 2008." Will the fiscal conservatives follow through, or are they just driving a hard bargain? (Watch Graham defend the GOP's stand)
Republicans are serious this time: Both parties have engaged in "theatrical showdowns over the debt ceiling," to embarrass the party in power, say Jeremy Jacobs and Edmund Andrews in National Journal. In the end, though, the threat of default was always deemed "too apocalyptic to be politically plausible. But that may not be the case this year," with the empowered Tea Partiers serious about not raising the ceiling without steep, offsetting spending cuts.
"Democrats, Republicans still poles apart on debt ceiling"
The GOP must stop this insanity: "These nutty right-wingers," most just arriving in Congress, "are like children playing with matches," says Bruce Bartlett in Capital Gains and Games. And "I don't think they realize that they are playing with fire when they even hint at the possibility of a debt default." If Republicans can't educate their new colleagues on the difference between fiscal responsibility and fiscal suicide, we should just scrap the "idiotic," artificial debt limit.
"The very real threat of a U.S. debt default"
The Tea Partiers might make Obama blink: The fact that Graham, "considered one of the more adult Republicans," is "playing chicken" like this is telling, says David Dayen in FireDogLake. It means resurgent fiscal conservatives "fully expect the president to give in to whatever demands they make to protect the full faith and credit of the nation." And they have reason for optimism. Obama probably isn't "willing to play a game of brinksmanship" when he can simply "agree to their demands."
"Yes, Mr. Goolsbee, they are that insane, and they know you're not"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
Subscribe to the Week