The New York Times has a story today about those in the GOP who don't think the government of the USA defaulting on its debt for the first time in history is a big deal. Weisman, Many in G,O,P. Offer Theory: Default Wouldn't be that Bad, New York Times (Oct. 8, 2013). One of them likens the government to his large-animal veterinary clinic, stating that he was able to talk to his creditors and work out some delayed payment and implying that the government can do the same. Id. (Ted Yoho, R-FLA).
What are these guys (mostly--but also some ridiculous women like Michele Bachmann) smoking?
First, they should read some history. Look at Spain in the late 1500s and early 1600s, where it went from the richest empire to poverty because of overcommitment to military enterprises at home and abroad that didn't take into account the potential for decreased commodities coming from their American colonies. Look at the South American defaults, in which the richest country in the world (us) had to come to the aid of those country (remember "Brady bonds"?). There's no richest country to come to our aid.
Second, they should walk the streets of this country outside the cocoon of their wealth and ease and privilege. Try to imagine what it feels like to be a dedicated government worker told to go home and do without any pay til Congress decides you're worth paying again--and listening to the likes of Rand Paul, Richard Burr and the others who think the shutdown is doing no harm and should continue for months, with all tax revenues going to pay off debt.
“You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time.” Id. (Richard Burr, shrugging off impact of default without any concern for the thousands of families and communities impacted or the long-term effects of government programs halted).
Third, they should look at the many spending obligations of this country that are the Law of the Land and apply their own purported views of fiscal responsibility to their own calls for defaulting on the debt. They do realize that Social Security recipients are among those who will be stiffed by the default? And military contractors, Head Start providers, NIH grant recipients, NSF grant recipients, the Centers for Disease Control and on down the list of federal agencies already hit hard by the shutdown and the people already living hand to mouth as they are forced into unemployment by well-heeled Republican congresspeople with such disdain for the very government that they are sworn to serve? The federal government cannot call a friendly lunch meeting with its creditors to work out a slo-pay schedule on its myriad obligations. (And most small businesses can't either, for that matter.)
The default enthusiasts hereby reveal that no matter what they have mouthed on Fox News in the past, in fact they were never ever worried about the amount of the federal debt. They were never ever concerned about fiscal responsibility. And they never ever were concerned that the amount of debt was bad because they didn't want the United States to be pushed into a situation where it would be required to default. They clearly don't care about the debt since they are now saying they don't think default is such a big deal.
Then what is this all about?
Krugman got it right.
Republicans don’t care about the debt and never did, they only pretended to as an excuse to slash social insurance programs. Paul Krugman, Default Deniers, New York Times (Oct. 8, 2013).
This is about the radical anarcho-libertarian Tea Party wing of the Republican party getting its way in spite of the fact that it represents a minority of the minority in this country. That group wants to force its view of the world on the rest of us, using extortionary demands to get the result it wants--less spending on social welfare programs that have been part of this country's social makeup for more than half a century and more benefits going to the ultra rich and big corporations who will exercise more control through the likely tandem result on free-flowing money in elections from the GOP-dominated Supreme Court of Scalia, Alito, Roberts and Thomas, all backed by the Koch and Walton and similar well-heeled families.
And one of Krugman's commenters also got it right:
I can't figure out what the "dangerously high debt level" is [for those GOPers who refuse to increase the debt ceiling for that reason]. Is it the danger of default? So they want us to default to avoid the danger of default?
Sounds like their fix for Social Security. We have to cut SS now so we don't have to cut SS in the future. Id (comments by Scott, Oct 9, 2013 at 11:02 am) , at http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/default-deniers/?comments#permid=10203589).