Creating bimonthly debt crises — on purpose

CREATING BIMONTHLY DEBT CRISES — ON PURPOSE…. While sane people realize that raising the debt ceiling is a necessity, there’s been some talk this week about congressional Republicans weighing incremental raises.

The assumption has been that Congress and the White House would raise the debt limit by a large enough amount to cover the annual deficit. A GOP member of the House Budget Committee said this week his party might prefer a piecemeal approach — raise the ceiling a little, in exchange for a ransom, then raise a little more, in exchange for another ransom, and so on.

The idea seems to be gaining some momentum and moving beyond the insider-scuttlebutt phase.

House Republicans are considering a plan to grant only incremental increases to the federal debt limit in a bid to extract more concessions on spending cuts and budgetary reform from the Obama administration.

The idea has a champion in Grover Norquist, the conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, who says he is “building allies” in the House Republican Conference to push for extending the debt limit every two months.

Yesterday, a right-wing freshman from Kansas, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), also endorsed the “shorter time-frame” approach as a way to exercise “leverage” over more responsible policymakers.

I found Jamelle Bouie’s response pretty compelling.

In essence, right-wing House members are proposing a schedule of periodic debt crises, as the United States scrambles to meet its obligations every two months. In addition to being a complete waste of time, foreign investors would flock from the U.S. debt, once they understood that our Congress had committed itself to long-term political dysfunction.

Not only is this insane, but it’s worth remembering that these people have a real shot at winning the White House in 2012.

There was a period of time — I believe it’s called “January 2009 through December 2010” — that congressional Republicans swore up and down that “economic uncertainty” was the single most dangerous threat in the world. To thrive, policymakers must stamp out uncertainty wherever it exists, which will in turn generate confidence and expand investments.

And yet, here we are. Facing the threat of a deliberate GOP-created crisis, the new Republican plan is to create new crises, every other month, for the indefinite future.

Indeed, playing incremental games with the ability of the country to pay its bills sends a loud signal to foreign countries and markets around the globe: there are just enough children in positions of authority in Congress to cause genuine concern about the nation’s finances.

The only thing worse than policymakers fighting over the debt ceiling is policymakers fighting over the debt ceiling every other month. The only thing more irresponsible than Republicans holding the economy hostage is Republicans holding the economy hostage on a bimonthly basis.

After the midterms, I expected American politics to get more ridiculous. I probably underestimated just how spectacularly stupid conditions could get.