Be Careful What You Wish For

Do Republicans really want to stop America from paying its bills? Conservative economics writer Megan McArdle explains just how ugly the consequences will get if the debt ceiling isn’t raised:

Are you really going to just stop funding current military operations on August 3rd? You're going to leave a bunch of guys sitting in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya with tanks and automatic weapons and no way to get them home?

Going to empty the prisons? How many guards do you think turn up for work when you stop paying them?

How about border control? I don't think it's going to be popular with the GOP base when you cease border enforcement and invite anyone who wants to to stroll across our unmanned border checkpoints. However much you hate the ATF and the DEA, they are a small fraction of this sort of spending at the federal level.

If we cut all funding for "general government", who is going to collect the revenues that you need to pay for all the social security checks and Medicare payments you plan to move out?

How long are landlords going to let tenants ride when Section 8 checks don't arrive? Going to let kids sleep on the streets?

Is your kid planning to take out a student loan for college this fall? Not any more, they're not.

With joblessness going up, you're going to get an earful when unemployment checks don't arrive.

. . . and when the mortgage market shuts down because Fannie and Freddie and the FHA stop writing checks….

To the extent that you fix any of these problems, it means cutting into the sacred four: military payrolls, VA benefits, Medicaid/Medicare, and Social Security. Or defaulting on our debt. Also, when you cut spending, GDP is going to fall, which means that tax revenue will also fall, which means that we probably have to cut even deeper into those politically untouchable programs….

[Failing to raise the debt ceiling] would mean an enormous amount of real suffering: homeless families, hungry old people, nursing homes closing their doors to indigent patients. And the fact that we could do it if we had to doesn't mean that we can therefore do it when we don't have to. If you try to artificially create a situation that requires drastic cuts, voters are going to get rid of you, not the spending.

Paying our bills isn’t a favor for President Obama, it’s a responsibility Republicans share to prevent an economic catastrophe that would impact American families—especially because Republican policies helped run up our debt in the first place. It’s time to take action to ensure America pays its bills and we enact a balanced approach to reduce the deficit that protects seniors and the middle class.