The worst of the bad default arguments

I don’t expect much from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but even by his standards, there’s no reason for this nonsense.

To McCain, the danger from continuing to let the federal deficit expand without taking substantive cost-cutting steps is much greater than the threat from failing to increase the federal debt ceiling by August 2.

“I think that this catastrophe or short-term meltdown that we’re facing isn’t nearly as bad as the meltdown that we’re facing unless we get our deficit under control,” McCain said.

This isn’t just wrong, it’s idiotic.

By McCain’s reasoning, a voluntary catastrophic meltdown, imposed on the nation by radicalized Republicans, just isn’t that serious a threat. The bigger threat, he argued, is a long-term fiscal challenge.

I’m trying to think of how best to explain this in a way McCain might understand. Let’s try a question: if, before August 2, Congress did what it’s always done, and simply raised the debt ceiling in a clean bill, what does McCain think would happen? The correct answer is, “Nothing.” And if by August 2, Republican decided they don’t want to raise the debt ceiling at all, what does McCain think would happen? The correct answer is, “Catastrophe.”

The senator argued that the catastrophe would be better than nothing, because the nothing might someday become something.

And to add insult to injury, even if Democrats agree and prioritize debt reduction, McCain still isn’t happy — unless Dems agree to debt reduction on GOP terms, he’ll take the catastrophe.

This would be far less terrifying if all of us weren’t poised to suffer from the GOP’s recklessness.