Friday, September 27, 2013

The Republican Debt Ceiling Bluff Is Self-Refuting

Suppose somebody tells you that he really wants your suit of armor. Why? Because he's terrified of getting stabbed. And you don't want to give it to him. So he makes a threat. If you don't give him the armor, he'll get a knife and stab himself!

Now you're in a nice position to call his bluff, because carrying out his threat is inconsistent with what he's told you about his interests. If he's really so terrified of being stabbed, he's not going to stab himself.

And that's the situation Obama is in with regard to Republicans who refuse to raise the debt ceiling. They claim to be concerned with big deficits caused by federal overspending. (They're actually demanding everything in return for debt ceiling increases, including the Keystone Pipeline, barriers to malpractice lawsuits, and partial repeal of the Clean Air Act and banking reform. But they're also asking for cuts in antipoverty programs and Medicare, which are part of the anti-spending agenda.) And the worst-case scenario with overspending is eventual default. But they're threatening to bring default immediately, which nobody actually concerned with overspending would do! There's simply no reason to pay attention to threats like this. 

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