Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Questions That Must Be Asked

Amazingly, the "unthinkable" is now becoming thinkable. Some Republicans are starting to say openly that defaulting on the debt, even for just a couple of days, is no big deal. And this shocking development is, understandably, disturbing a lot of people who never thought they would see the day.

One of the typical lines we are hearing from this "no-big-dealers" is that even if the debt limit is increased, the payments to our creditors will not cease. The Treasury will simply prioritize spending so that our debts are paid first. The 40% difference between revenue and spending for the budget as a whole will simply be handled by slashing 40% of the spending on non-debt payments.

Which brings up the obvious questions that every journalist should be asking those who are suggesting that it's no big deal to not raise the debt limit: Where should that 40% come from? Which federal programs should be slashed? And who should decide where the slashing should happen?

Do these idiots realize that Congress has already authorized the spending on these programs. All refusing to raise the debt limit will do is cripple the ability of the Treasury to pay for the programs Congress has already committed to. And Treasury can't wait for the Congress to advise them on how to spend the money. The Treasury has to make the decision on a timetable that Congress has no say in. That means that the Treasury, under the orders of Obama, has the authority to decide which programs to pay for if Congress doesn't authorize it to borrow more money.

In other words, by refusing to raise the debt limit, the Republicans would give Obama the defacto authority to decide the spending priorities of the United States.

Is that what they want?

These are the questions that must be asked.

Why is no one asking them?