Bernanke urges GOP to stop playing games

Several months ago, realizing what congressional Republicans were likely to do, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the GOP not to “play around with” the debt ceiling, adding that lawmakers shouldn’t view the debt ceiling as a “bargaining chip.”

Obviously, Republicans didn’t care for that advice, and did the exact opposite, explicitly threatening President Obama. Indeed, Republicans have made no effort to hide the nature of their hostage strategy: either Dems accept sweeping cuts or the GOP will crash the economy on purpose.

Today, the Republican Fed chairman tried again to get GOP lawmakers to understand.

Ben Bernanke renewed his calls to Congress to stop holding the debt ceiling hostage.

“I fully understand the desire to use the debt limit deadline to force some necessary and difficult fiscal policy adjustments, but the debt limit is the wrong tool for that important job,” the Federal Reserve chairman said at the annual conference for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in D.C. on Tuesday. […]

“Failing to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way would be self-defeating if the objective is to chart a course toward a better fiscal situation for our nation,” he said.

That “self-defeating” point is of particular interest. Republicans claim to be deeply concerned about a debt crisis, but if they refuse to raise the ceiling — if, in other words, they shoot the proverbial hostage — the national debt would likely go up a lot.

Also note, Bernanke also said the large federal budget deficit “mostly reflected the automatic cyclical response of revenues and spending to a weak economy as well as the fiscal actions taken to ease the recession and aid the recovery.”

In other words, Bernanke isn’t going along with Republican talking points on this, either.

And while we’re at it, we should also keep in mind that the Fed chairman argued just last week that “a sharp fiscal consolidation focused on the very near term could be self-defeating,” and would likely “undercut the still-fragile recovery.”

Only congressional Republicans could possibly make Ben Bernanke look like a big liberal.