Despite numerous warnings from three major credit agencies, economists, businesses, members of their own party, and general common sense, the Republican “Hell No” caucus remains ever vigilant in ignoring the economic disaster that will follow a failure to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2. While some Republicans have offered simply ludicrous reasons to paint the deadline as arbitrary, an increasing number are pushing the notion that there’s no danger at all in defaulting on our debt.
Today on ABC’s Top Line, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) went one step further and threw away the word “default” altogether. While he views Aug. 2 as an “important date,” he refuses to “take the premise that we’re going to default on our obligations.” Believing “default” isn’t even the right word to use to describe the economic consequences, Rokita slammed those who would avoid default as “piggish” and “un-American” for worrying about “my own little program or my own little economy.” Rokita then declared defiantly that he’s willing to vote down a debt ceiling raise even if it means “the economy might get worse”:
ROKITA: We’ll learn to live within our means right now, in the here and now. And this might force that issue even if the economy does or the stock market does go down, the economy might get worse. The economy is terrible it’s been terrible for years now, and the reason it’s bad is not because of a debt-ceiling vote. The reason it’s bad is because we have people who believe that by making government bigger by keeping people on unemployment checks and on welfare we’re going to dig us out of this mess.
Rokita might not care to worry about the “little program” or “little economy,” but by refusing to raise our debt limit, he will force the U.S. to fail to meet its obligations on vital social programs including Medicare, Medicaid, defense, and active duty pay for soldiers. As the Bipartisan Policy Center pointed out, the country would have to cut Social Security benefits almost immediately.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling would force the Treasury Department to slash 44 percent from the budget overnight, a scenario that would not only wipe out all of the estimated 2011 economic growth in 95 days, but cause a 2.3 percent drop in GDP, rock an already fragile housing market, increase unemployment, and even tip the U.S. back into a recession.
Given the dire consequences, it is not hard to see why the American people already overwhelmingly disapprove of the Republican approach to dealing with the debt. By completely dismissing the severe consequences of his actions, Rokita is defaulting on “his own little” responsibility to our nation’s future.