Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced today that the United States will hit its $14.3 trillion debt limit on March 31 of this year. If Congress does not move to increase the national debt ceiling by that time, “disastrous consequences” for the nation’s economy will result, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.
Despite the real danger, many Republicans in Congress are trying to use the debt ceiling as a political chip in order to impose draconian spending cuts or demagogue to the right-wing fringe. Leading candidates for RNC Chairman, including Michael Steele and Ann Wagner, have also expressed their unequivocal opposition to raising the debt ceiling. At least seven Republicans also want to go so far as to shut down the federal government rather than see the debt ceiling increased.
The ignorance of the anti-debt ceiling wing of the GOP was encapsulated by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). Speaking with The Hill, Mulvaney declared that he would not vote to raise the debt ceiling because he had “yet to meet someone who can articulate the negative consequences.”
Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) articulated those negative consequences. Speaking with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Graham described what would happen if the debt ceiling weren’t raised: “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world. That’s not lost on me”:
BLITZER: You said on Sunday something that has raised a lot of eyebrows. As you know, in the coming weeks, next few months, the U.S. is going to have to raise the debt ceiling, otherwise America’s creditworthiness is going to go down the drain. You said you’d be willing to vote to do that, but only – I’m paraphrasing now – if there’s a deal in place to deal with Social Security and unless we go back to the 2008 spending limits. Those are your two conditions. How realistic are those conditions? Because you know what’s involved if the U.S. creditworthiness is evaporated.
GRAHAM: Let me tell you what’s involved if we don’t lift the debt ceiling: financial collapse and calamity throughout the world. That’s not lost upon me. But we’ve done this 93 times. And if we keep doing the same old thing, then that is insanity to the nth degree. We’re going to have calamity of a different fashion if we don’t get our spending under control. So what I said is the House is going to go back to 2008 spending levels. I would like to see the Senate mirror what the House does. Now that means tightening our belt, but name somebody in America who hasn’t had to tighten their belt.
However, despite the fact that Graham is fully cognizant of the dangers posed by not raising the debt ceiling, that’s not stopping him from holding the vote hostage until Congress passes regressive Social Security and spending cuts.