Default hysteria continues in Washington, in defiance of the most basic facts of arithmetic. Some Republicans have even been taken in, but one who is having none of it is Congressman David Schweikert of Arizona, the former treasurer of Maricopa County:
“You and I can find ways the game-playing has been done,” said Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, the former treasurer of Maricopa County. “You don’t get to have those debates and discussions if you have the administration able to game-play with the trust funds.”
Another reporter asked Schweikert to respond to some doom-saying quotes from Chinese bankers. “I lay this at the steps of the administration and Jack Lew,” said the congressman. “The unconscionable, unacceptable use of language, the word ‘default,’ when the borrowing we need for 2014 is we’re 16 percent short on revenue. To use the word ‘default,’ to scare the markets—are politics really that important to this administration that it ignores basic math?”
Schweikert ticked off ways that he, as a county treasurer, had sought balance. “The basic repo desk, running your ladders on your debt—it’s stunning that the politicians in the administration care more about keeping this as a wedge than the international markets. Even Geithner made it clear that he had the ability to prioritize…. [T]here is no such thing as default unless there is an actual evil attempt from the administration. When you have 18 percent of GDP coming in in cash, less than 2 percent going out in debt coverage—I’m stunned you all fall for it in the press. None of you were math majors, were you?”
Republicans perhaps could have exposed the great default hoax if the debt limit issue had not been intertwined with the government shutdown. Now the Republicans are not in much of a position to try to explain anything. Still, it is easy to see what they should have done, and perhaps should still do. The projected deficit for FY 2014 is, I believe, around $600 billion. So the Republican House should vote to increase the debt limit by, say, $300 billion. That will give the administration plenty of leeway to “pay our bills.” There will be plenty of time to prioritize spending and decide what should be cut. The cut–some is just forgoing an increase, but some will be actual cuts–is the other $300 billion.
The Democrats would squeal like stuck pigs, of course, but what could they do? They have no power to raise the debt ceiling without the House. So inevitably, they would have to deal–and seriously, for once. Entitlement reform would have to be on the table, because the Democrats would see their treasured discretionary spending going up in smoke. And once a successful precedent has been set, the Republicans can do it again next year. We conservatives finally have a practical means by which we can restrain federal spending, and our leaders haven’t yet figured out how to use it.