A handful of incoming Republican lawmakers — including Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) and Reps.-elect Jeff Denhem (R-CA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) — have said that they will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, even though the U.S. government will reach its borrowing limit early next year. “I’m going to vote against raising the national debt ceiling. We simply can’t continue to mortgage the future or our unborn children and grandchildren,” Lee said.
Plenty of Republican freshman besides these three also ran on opposition to a debt ceiling increase, and according to Rep.-elect Bill Johnson (R-OH), many of them have agreed to stick to their guns when the vote comes:
Rep.-elect Bill Johnson of Ohio said those who ran on such messages didn’t intend to reverse themselves now. “Most of us agreed that to increase the limit would be a betrayal of what we told voters we would do,” he said. GOP leaders hope to package a debt-limit vote with significant spending cuts, making it easier for Republicans to vote for it. But it isn’t clear that will be enough for many of the GOP freshmen.
Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has been talking to the GOP’s freshmen about the debt ceiling, telling them “we’re going to have to deal with it as adults.” “Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part,” Boehner said. And he’s correct that raising the ceiling affirms that the country will pay off the debts its incurred. As the Center for American Progress’ David Min pointed out, failure to raise the debt ceiling could be disastrous:
The financial markets are on edge today, with U.S. Treasury bonds being the safe haven for most investment capital. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling would recklessly disrupt the sale and purchase of new Treasury bonds, and could potentially cause a run on outstanding Treasurys as well, as investors sought other investments. This could have catastrophic consequences for our economy as well as the economic stability of the rest of the world.
Such a move will also increase long-term deficits and debt, while cutting off Social Security and Medicare benefits for millions of seniors. But if Johnson is to be believed, many incoming Republican freshman will put that second to their Tea Party ideology.
Cross-posted on ThinkProgress.