Political Correction

Does Rep. Bachmann Even Understand What The Debt Ceiling Is?

August 01, 2011 3:10 pm ET - by Alan Pyke

In a contentious interview with right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham this morning, GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann repeatedly said that any increase in the debt ceiling — including the proposed resolution to the default crisis that comes entirely on Republican terms — would be "injurious" to the economy, based on the false premise that debt limit increases add to the debt itself, just like spending.

BACHMANN: They also point to the fact that raising the debt ceiling anywhere between another $2.1-2.4 trillion will be injurious to economic recovery. [...]

My opinion is, we're going to now give the president almost a trillion dollars and then come Christmastime he'll get potentially — we'll find out what the final numbers were — potentially upwards of another, in excess of another trillion, maybe as high as another 1.8 trillion, but that's on top of the other 2.2 trillion spending that we do. So this isn't just 2.4 or 2.8 trillion worth of spending, we have the full budget which is another 2.2 trillion.

"I mean, these numbers," Bachmann added, "this is like saying we embrace being Greece. I don't."


This is troubling on several fronts. First, it's not "injurious" to pay your obligations. It's Finance 101, and failing to extend the debt limit so we can pay off President Bush's $5 trillion credit card bill would scuttle U.S. growth, destroy our reputation in the world economy, and impose a massive backdoor tax hike on all businesses while worsening the debt picture. Second, a frontrunner for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination thinks that the ability to pay back debts we've already incurred is the same as the new spending.

But worst of all, Bachmann's not even being consistent with her own record.

Her thinking on this issue amounts to a call for perfectly balanced budgets forevermore, beginning this year. That would mean deep and immediate spending cuts of the sort economists say would cause serious economic harm. If she had a thought-out argument for why those economists are wrong and moving immediately to balanced budgets so we never have to raise the debt limit again will be good for unemployed Americans, that would be one thing. But in April she voted for the House GOP budget that would require another $9 trillion in debt ceiling headroom over the next ten years because it doesn't balance for 25 years. (Despite this contradiction, Bachmann bragged to Ingraham of her steadfast consistency. "One thing that people know about me is that I act from core principles," she said.)

In short, Michele Bachmann fails to grasp the basic concept of the debt ceiling, and offers only scattershot nonsense that's totally inconsistent with her own voting record.

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