Madman Jim DeMint ties budget amendment to raising debt ceiling
Jim DeMint has said he will filibuster any attempt to raise the debt ceiling unless the GOP balanced budget amendment is passed, implicitly invoking a theory of neo-Mutual Assured Destruction
Sen. Jim DeMint yesterday stated that a vote on raising the national debt ceiling should be conditional on the passage of a newly released GOP-backed balanced budget amendment, The Hill is reporting. One could scour Washington DC — a veritable hellhole of corporate whoredom and cynical posturing — for two more destructive ideas, and come up short. And DeMint has managed to join them in unholy wedlock!
The first idea — that we should be playing around with defaulting on our national debt — has become popular with the more fringe elements of the GOP. First of all, it’s not going to happen. Even Paul Ryan has called that outcome “unworkable.” Second, if it were to happen the effects would be apocalyptic. Just ask the normally rhetorically restrained Sec of Treasury Tim Geithner, who said refusing to raise the debt limit would result in “the first default in history caused purely by insanity.” Speaker John Boehner said it would result in “financial disaster.” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the consequences of a national default would be “catastrophic.”
You get the point.
The second idea in this gruesome twosome is newer. Last week the Republicans introduced a constitutional amendment that would, among other things, require a 2/3 majority of both chambers of Congress to vote on a tax increase and make it unconstitutional for total government spending to exceed 18% of GDP. The amendment actually makes it harder to balance the budget, because of the extra hurdles in raising taxes, and puts a completely arbitrary cap on spending related to GDP.
Bruce Bartlett calls the proposal, “mind boggling in its insanity.” Ezra Klein points out (twice, actually) that not a single year of the Reagan administration would have been deemed constitutional under this amendment. NOT A SINGLE YEAR OF THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION. You can see why he pointed it out twice. Not a single year of the Bush era would have been constitutional, and only two years of Clinton would have been. The fact of the matter is that the boomers are getting older, and Social Security and Medicare will increase in relation to GDP. You can’t just say, “we don’t like that.” Or, rather, you can, but you will be labeled as someone who is mind bogglingly insane.
And now Jim DeMint is threatening to play chicken with defaulting on US debt unless the GOP amendment is passed. Neither of those things are going to happen, and DeMint well knows that, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t acting like a psychopath. Threatening to plunge the world into the greatest economic disaster perhaps imaginable because you want to pretend to care about the deficit is nothing short of deranged.
He’s acting like some kind of faux-deficit hawk super villain, ready to plunge the world into unknowable chaos. But instead of world domination he’s seeking a temporary upper-hand in the news cycle, a goal so utterly asinine it only serves to reinforce how unhinged from reality he is. And it’s not just DeMint — the 46 other Senate Republicans joined him on the balanced budget amendment, that, again, would have rendered all but two of the last 30 years unconstitutional.
They know that none of this will happen, but they also know that they’re shifting to Overton window to the right with every new crazy proposal. And, after a while, things like privatizing Medicare seem less out of bounds by comparison.
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