House Budget Chairman Admits Failure To Raise Debt Ceiling Is ‘Unworkable,’ But Takes It Hostage Anyway

A slew of Congressional Republicans — including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and a handful of GOP representatives — have said that they will flat-out refuse to raise the debt ceiling when the country’s legal borrowing limit is reached in the next few months. Other Republicans, however, have decided that they’d rather hold the credit worthiness of the United States hostage to various demands.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for instance, said that “I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligations starting with Social Security.” Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement today that “the American people will not stand for such an increase unless it is accompanied by meaningful action by the President and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington.”

During an event today at the National Press Club, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that failing to raise the debt ceiling is “unworkable.” “Obviously, you can’t default,” he said. However, he is still trying to hold the increase hostage to unspecified “fiscal controls” and spending cuts:

RYAN: Does it have to be raised? Yes, you can’t not raise the debt ceiling. Default is the unworkable solution, or the alternative, I guess I’d say — the unworkable alternative. But we do not want to just have some naked debt ceiling increase. We want to have real fiscal controls, real spending cuts, in order to do that.


Q: The former senator, you know, Phil Gramm, once told me that his political rule was never to take a political hostage you’re not prepared to shoot. And you have to pass a debt ceiling increase, so that’s a hostage you’re not prepared to shoot, ’cause you can’t. So how is that a winning strategy?

RYAN: There, there are, how long will we raise the debt ceiling?

Watch it:

Ryan’s meek threat to change the interval of how long he is willing to raise the debt ceiling shows that he hasn’t really thought this through at all. And with the credit worthiness of the U.S. on the line, as well as the prospect of a government shutdown, it’s easy to see why these threats don’t have much meat on them. Still, there are quite a few Republicans who seem intent on engaging in brinkmanship when it comes to this particular necessary task.