Congressional Republicans continue to doubt President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s urgings that Treasury will exhaust its ability to keep the country beneath its statutory debt limit on Aug. 2. While Treasury was able to find ways to push back earlier deadlines, the Aug. 2 date is the “drop dead date,” according to Geithner and other Treasury officials.
So far, however, the questioning has come mainly from talk radio hosts and backbench Republicans who lack any real influence in the party. Their attacks, that deadline is Aug. 2 so Obama can celebrate Ramadan or have celebrities perceive him as a hero at his birthday party, have been easily dismissed. But Monday, the first attack came from a member of House leadership when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, claimed on Southern California Public Radio that Aug. 2 was an “artificial deadline” Obama was using to “extort a deal” out of Congress:
“We should not be having a discussion with a artificial deadline of August 2nd, set by the President so the President can extort a deal through his reelection period. That’s not right, it’s not what the American people expect us to do.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) piled on Tuesday, saying, “The president needs a crisis to blame us for the economy that he’s made worse.”
Issa and DeMint are, of course, wrong that the date was determined artificially. The extended deadline was determined by projected government revenues and expenditures since the government officially hit its credit limit in May. Among the House GOP’s leadership, Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agree that a deal must be done by August 2.
In April, Issa called the raising of the debt ceiling an “inevitability” that “we must do” to “authorize the government to borrow money rather than simply default on its loans,” hinting that failing to do so would prevent senior citizens from receiving Social Security and Medicare payments. Now, with that exact scenario set to unfold in two weeks, Issa would rather join the fringes of his party by playing politics with the American economy than take the necessary steps to avoid crisis.