Democrats & Liberals Archives

Breaking Down The GOP Field On the Debt Ceiling

As the negotiations and media frenzy surrounding the debt limit continue today I decided it might be nice to take a look at where the 2012 GOP candidates stand on this subject.

Stances on the on the debt ceiling generally break down into three groups.

Group #1 - Don't raise it: Strong, bold, courageous, line in sand version

This group is pretty scary. They understand that not raising it will be a bad idea. They just think worse things will come down the road if we do raise it. It's a questionable suggestion though that anything could be worse than what might happen if we default.

Tim Pawlenty:

I hope and pray and believe they should not raise the debt ceiling. These historic, dramatic moments where you can draw a line in the sand and force politicians to actually do something bold and courageous are important moments.

Gary Johnson:

For all the talk of Armageddon—and there will be tremendous hardship if we don't raise it, the problems we'll face by not doing so will pale in comparison to what’s down the road.

Group #2 - Don't raise it: Complete denial version

I'm not sure which group is scarier though. Those who know it will be bad but don't want to raise it or those that are in complete denial that anything will go wrong.

Michele Bachmann:

And don't let them scare you by telling you that the country's going to fall apart and that we’re going to default on our debt.

Herman Cain:

For example let's take the debt ceiling. Don't raise it. And all of these scare tactics about how it's going to hurt old people, children and puppy dogs...that's just scare tactics.

Group #3 - Conditional Raise: Hold raise hostage to get what we want

Most candidates fall into this last category. They seem to understand the debt ceiling has to be raised but they want the GOP to leverage it as much as possible. They want to erode President Obama's image and strength as much as possible and perhaps even outright embarrass him through the negotiation process. Many of these same people want to achieve a Balanced Budget Amendment at the same time. They treat such a thing as a no brainier despite the fact that this amendment has been debated for decades and is hardly black and white.

Newt Gingrich:

Don't give him a penny more in debt ceiling than he accepts in spending cuts and if he only wants to accept enough spending cuts to get through the next 6 months that's fine.

Jon Huntsman:

I would vote to increase the debt limit if there was a corresponding level of cuts. And if there was some serious talk about a balanced budget amendment, which we as governors always had to deal with.

Thaddeus McCotter: have significant spending caps, budget reforms, and then real reductions in spending so that it's a comprehensive package to prevent us from ever getting in this situation again.

Ron Paul:

So before any agreement on raising the debt limit is even considered, the GOP leadership should demand that 'Cut, Cap and Balance' be part of the deal.

Mitt Romney:

The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending and cap federal spending and put into place a balanced budget amendment. That for me is the line in the sand.

Rick Santorum:

This is a real opportunity for our nation's leaders to come together, cut and cap government spending, and, most importantly, pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to our Constitution so that we never have to raise our nation's debt limit again.

For the record, no relevant statements were found from candidates Fred Karger, Andy Martin, or Jonathon Sharkey, but I did look.

Posted by Adam Ducker at July 15, 2011 10:27 AM
Comment #325790

I’m disappointed with Romney for coming out in favor of a Balanced Budgte Amendment. It’s a thoroughly stupid idea, and he is smart enough to know better. The other candidates- well, maybe not. Unfortunately, they all feel the need to strike a pose, and a Balanced Budget Amendment provides a perfect example of a dumb idea that appeals to many people. We’re a country of know-nothings.

In a way, it’s understandable. Most people know nothing about economics, and very little about government. They think that since they balance their checkbooks, government should balance its checkbook. The problem, of course, is that family finances and government finances are two very, very different things.

Romney knows a Balanced Budget Amendment is dumb. I’m sure of it. I respect him enough to think that. Romney knows an executive can simply declare additional expenditures off-budget ‘emergency spending’ and- voila! No more restrictions. For a recent example, consider Bush and the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. A significant part of our current debt and deficits comes from these boondoggles.

Romney knows a Balanced Budget Amendment is dumb for another reason. He understands business well enough to understand the concept of supply and demand as it relates to fiscal policy.

Fiscal policy recognizes that government spending can be used to influence the economy. Deficit spending and tax breaks can be used to stimulate an economy. Spending cuts and tax increases have the opposite effect. Romney understands this. The federal government has the ability to stimulate or brake the economy as necessary. For a recent example, consider the stimulus packages passed in the waning days of the Bush administration.

Another example: shortly after Bush won in 2001, the Republicans found themselves with a budget surplus and projected surpluses of $10 trillion for the next decade. There were a lot of good ways that surplus could have been used, but the GOP gave taxpayers rebate checks. Today, we can only slap at heads in disbelief at how stupid those Republicans were at the time. Ugh. Those conservatives really trashed the economy. But this was an example of Balanced Budget Amendment thinking.

Finally, the logistics of passing an amendment are daunting, to say the least, especially when the idea is dumb.

Posted by: phx8 at July 15, 2011 5:05 PM
Comment #325801

I fully expect Obama to cave on the Debt Ceiling. He always has before.

Posted by: Aldous at July 15, 2011 7:29 PM
Comment #325804

Phx8: “The problem, of course, is that family finances and government finances are two very, very different things.”


Aldous: “I fully expect Obama to cave on the Debt Ceiling. He always has before.”

Somebody has to blink. I wouldn’t try and guess anything specific at this point.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at July 15, 2011 8:04 PM
Comment #325809

Obama tried to cave, but the Republicans wouldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.

Posted by: phx8 at July 15, 2011 8:26 PM
Comment #325814


Ofcourse they wouldn’t. It’s just another chance to demand MORE.

Posted by: Aldous at July 15, 2011 9:11 PM
Comment #325820

Cave? No. The Republicans will cave first. Why? Because their demands take actual passage of legislation through both houses and the signature of the president. We have the signature, we have the Senate

We also have the easiest position of all: pass the debt ceiling increase. There’s no wrangling over pages and pages of budget numbers trying to come up with different offers, there’s just one page and one bill, and that is all it will take for us to win.

Few Democrats are going to abandon the president if he doesn’t get the tax increases, much less abandon him over not getting the spending cuts. He’s got incentive to hold the line.

Republicans, though, if they can’t get what they want, have to think about damage control, and damage control doesn’t even to begin to describe what will be necessary if they have to fade the heat over the debt ceiling’s failure

So, they, too, have the incentive to just push a debt ceiling increase through.

What Republicans fail to realize is that any time they hold the functions of government or the economy hostage for the sake of their agenda items, they’re holding themselves hostage, as well, because if they don’t succeed in bullying the other side into giving in, they will end up blamed for whatever failure occurs as well.

And since they had a spectacularly easy chance to say yes, just a few months ago, the narrative will be very easy to build against them. They could have just taken the President’s initial offer, and not put themselves in this position. It wasn’t brain surgery. It’s one sheet of paper.

Sooner or later, both sides will come to this agreement, especially with the Republicans utterly unwilling to budge. They cannot concede nothing, without getting nothing, and they cannot deny the debt ceiling increase without getting worse than nothing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 15, 2011 10:17 PM
Comment #330895

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