GOP: Making the Hard Choices (To Cut Spending Only On the Wrong People.)
Let that debt ceiling collapse on top of everyone. It's no biggie. Really.
Three Republican lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill urging the White House to prioritize who gets paid first if Washington fails to raise the debt ceiling by the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Obama administration.
The task of determining what is a luxury and what is an essential payment is a difficult one. The bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, sets two top-tier priorities -- the proposal would mandate the government take care of its debt payments and military salaries before anything else.
"There's money that comes in, there's revenue that comes in. ... And of that, we want to make sure that we keep our promises," King said. "We pay our military first because they're the ones that protect the security and the liberty of the American people. ... Their lives are on the line."
That makes sense to me. What else do Republicans really care about but war and bond holders?
Actually, they assume Social Security payments will go out. And Medicare. And Medicaid and well ...
"We're just calling on the president to assume the role of CEO and prioritize accordingly," Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) said at a press conference on the issue. Participants repeatedly accused Obama of trying to "scare seniors" by suggesting Social Security payments might be suspended in the wake of a default crisis.
One reporter shouted a question as to whether things like, say, keeping criminals in federal prisons or securing the border might also be added to the list.
"They're all priorities," Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). "As our colleagues here have said, we need to keep our promises and the money is there to do that."
But where will the immediate 44% cut in overall spending needed to avoid default come from instead? Michele Bachmann, who has gone so far as to demand the debt ceiling never be raised, dodged questions on the issue Wednesday by simply repeating her assertion that Social Security and troop pay be left sacrosanct.
Asked by TPM about what areas might need to be cut offset their proposed guarantees, Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) offered a similar response, repeating that Social Security, Medicare, military pay, and veterans' benefits should all be off limits. Pressed to name any savings -- furloughing federal employees, shutting down various agencies -- that might be preferable, she said her focus was only on calling out Obama's threats.
"We're not targeting any of those things," she said. "We're not scheming on the House side to somehow have a menu of things that are going to happen when the inevitable denouement occurs."
I think they really believe that the government has a bunch of thousand dollar bills in a vault that they can put in envelopes and mail out to the most deserving creditors. And then they can call up one of those credit bureaus and ask them to work out a repayment deal at 50 cents on the dollar for the rest. After all, the government is just like an average American household.
If you want to decide for yourself what should be paid, click here for an interactive tool that let's you decide which debts the government should honor. It's exciting fun for the whole family!