MR. ‘COLOSSALLY STUPID’ STRIKES AGAIN…. During his House tenure, perhaps Mark Kirk’s most notable moment came when he traveled to China and encouraged Chinese officials not to believe the U.S. government when it comes to budget issues. It was, to my mind, one of the more striking examples in recent memory of an American lawmaker trying to undermine the United States on the international stage.
MarketWatch’s David Weidner, hardly a partisan or an ideologue, described Kirk’s remarks as “colossally stupid” and “dangerous,” adding that the Illinois Republican, preparing to seek statewide office, ran the risk of creating an “international incident.”
That was two years ago. Kirk has since been promoted to the U.S. Senate — even after he was caught telling extensive lies about his personal background. This morning, he was asked whether Congress would actually do what has to be done, and raise the debt ceiling before there’s a crisis.
“Maybe or maybe not,” Kirk said.
The first-term senator and former House lawmaker from the suburbs of Chicago said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he will “vote no on raising the debt ceiling unless we have comprehensive, dramatic, effective and broad-based cuts to federal spending, including the reform of entitlement spending.
“I think the best play here is to have the bipartisan deficit commission report of the Gang of Six attached to the debt limit extension,” Kirk said. “That would be huge cuts in the future spending of the United States that may be a good deal. Without that we should not send a blank check to the administration.”
Substantively, this is all rather foolish. Even Kirk should be able to keep up well enough to understand that this issue has nothing to do with giving the administration a “blank check.”
But in the larger context, responsible policymakers have been trying to reassure the world that the United States government will, in fact, meets its obligations, and that global financial markets have nothing to worry about.
Tony Fratto, a former Treasury official and veteran of the Bush/Cheney White House noted the other day, “If there is a vote on raising the debt ceiling and it fails, there will be a significant market reaction. Investors already believe that Congress doesn’t understand the financial markets. A failure to raise the debt ceiling will confirm this to them.” He added the effects on the economy come “quickly” and would be severe and long-lasting.
It’s against this backdrop that Mark Kirk went on national television to declare that congressional Republicans may or may not do the right thing.