Debt ceiling debate: the opportunity costs(Read article summary)
Debt ceiling discussions are taking up huge amounts of legislative time. But should the president be able to raise the debt ceiling on his own?
Susan Walsh / AP
We live at a time of 9.2% unemployment, with tens of millions un- and underemployed. The job market is stuck in neutralâ€”if the economy were a bicycle, it would be wobbling along, threatening to keel over unless the rider paid some attention to the pedals.
And yet, instead of dealing with this fundamental challenge to the living standards of everyday people, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, spent the day figuring out a way to avoid having to vote to raise the debt ceiling.
Clearly, heâ€™s in the same mode as his house colleagues, who now argue that â€śitâ€™s the administrationâ€™s debt ceiling.â€ť
The proposal would have the President call for increasing the debt ceiling, and that call would trigger an equal-sized (nonbinding) cut in spending. The Congress could vote against raising the ceiling, but theyâ€™d need a veto-proof majority to make that vote stick.
Iâ€™ve seen a bunch of analysis suggesting that Obama should like this deal. He can raise the debt ceiling on his own, get credit for proposing spending cuts, and leave it to Congress to enact them or not. Sure, he and the Dâ€™s (assuming theyâ€™d support his veto if the Râ€™s â€śdisapprovedâ€ť of the debt increase) get tagged with raising the ceiling, but hey, thatâ€™s the price of being the grown ups.
Maybe this is the Presidentâ€™s best option if no others open up. It does present a way for Râ€™s to avoid triggering default without getting their fingerprints on the debt ceiling increase, and maybe thatâ€™s the best we can get.
But I donâ€™t like it (I doubt House Râ€™s will like it either, since it practically insures a debt increase with no commitment to spending cuts). Itâ€™s a cynical ploy, an admission that you wonâ€™t take the responsibility to do the right thing, and it pretty deep complexity to what should be, and has been in the past, a pro forma vote against wholly avoidable economic pain.
Also, consider the opportunity costs being expended here. Every legislative moment spent figuring out how to game the debt ceiling is not being spent preventing that bicycle from toppling over.
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link above.