While a growing number of Americans support raising the federal debt ceiling, Republican lawmakers remain fastidiously committed to plunging the nation into an economic crisis that could bring about a bigger GDP drop than the 2008 recession. Ignoring the foreseeable danger, Republicans insist on holding the necessary increase in the debt ceiling hostage for destructive demands like a balanced budget amendment or crippling budget cuts. Last week, Tea Party Doyen Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) signaled that if any Republicans should go “the wrong way” and vote to raise the debt ceiling, he would work to oust them in 2012.
DeMint’s dangerous political posturing, however, drew scoffs from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Speaking with ThinkProgress at Netroots Nation this past weekend, Franken blasted DeMint and the GOP’s “hostage-taking” on the debt ceiling as an “unconscionable” gamble with the “full faith and credit” of the U.S.:
FRANKEN: I think it’s unconscionable. This is really playing with the full faith and credit of the United States government. We don’t know for sure what the effect would be, but we may be risking a worldwide depression by doing this. Basically, the world economy is based on the dollar and based on the Treasury. And for us to allow the default on treasuries would be, I think, an absolute disaster. This kind of hostage-taking to me is unconscionable.
Given the comprehensive nature of the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, “absolute disaster” may be putting it lightly. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently noted that even a short-term default could result in cuts to vital programs like Social Security, Medicare, and the military. The Wall Street Journal noted that, if Republicans hold out long enough, their failure could serve to negate all of the expected 2011 economic growth. The U.S default would also land a severe blow an already fragile housing market that is currently experiencing a downward spiral worse than that of the Great Depression. Be it “absolute disaster” or “unconscionable,” Franken’s characterization of this issue is undeniably more accurate than that of the GOP.