Monday, May 16, 2011

How Republicans Are Holding You, And America, Hostage

Debt is bad. We all know that, right? That's why your parents always tell you to pay down your credit cards, why Free Credit Score Dot Com commercials warn you won't get that car of your dreams. Debt leads to losing everything you own, ending only in suicide or starvation.

So it stands to reason that debt is also bad for America. If the deficit grows, the future of America should be just as bleak, ending in the break-up of the United States into tiny, feudal kingdoms, ruled by armed thugs wearing spike studded football shoulder pads driving around in flame-throwing motorcycles.

So why, good Americans, would we raise the "debt ceiling" without first cutting spending? Republicans, good stewards of our economy who have never, ever increased the national debt, ever, ever ever, are asking that question. And they're also answering that question, refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless austere measures are taken by those out-of-control Democrats.

There's just one problem.

The debt ceiling is not the same thing as the national debt.

Let that marinate for a moment. "National Debt" and "Debt Ceiling" both have the word "Debt" in it, so to an unintelligent person, they may look the same. But they're not.

"National Debt" is how much we're in the hole. "Debt Ceiling" is how much we're allowed to borrow.

While a higher debt ceiling means more borrowing, and therefore, a higher national debt, this DOES NOT MEAN THAT KEEPING THE DEBT CEILING AS IT IS REDUCES THE NATIONAL DEBT OR KEEPS IT THE SAME.

In fact, it actually causes the opposite to happen.

The U.S. is at the debt limit now. And that means it can no longer borrow money. We've established that the government now runs a deficit, and has very large debt. So if it can no longer borrow money, that means it can no longer pay its bills.

According to Slate:

The Treasury would no longer be able to issue new bonds, meaning that the United States would eventually start failing to pay its bills (like Social Security payments) and to service its outstanding debt (paying bondholders interest). The world bond market would likely panic, raising borrowing costs for all individuals and businesses. Moreover, the United States' borrowing costs would never fall as low again—investors would never fully trust the United States to pay back what it promises.

That's just the first stage. Then the stock market collapses to Great Depression levels. Millions are laid off overnight. The U.S. is no longer the world's superpower. We're Greece.

In other words, the apocalypse happens now.

With businesses failing and millions out of work, the U.S. tax base shrinks. Not only can the government not afford to pay anybody, now, it doesn't even have the money to keep the lights on in the Capitol building.

The United States breaks up into tiny, feudal kingdoms, ruled by armed thugs wearing spike studded football shoulder pads driving around in flame-throwing motorcycles.

This is reality. It's undisputed. Failing to raise the debt ceiling will be a catastrophe that will permanently end America as we know it.

And the Republicans are threatening to do it.

Hmm. Maybe these guys are on to something.

It's the equivalent to threatening a bank robber with a nuclear detonation if he doesn't put down the gun. Sure, a nuke would stop the bank from being robbed, but... you know... the bank's kind of a moot point after the mushroom cloud.

Debt is bad. We all know it is. But there are better ways to force the government to take it seriously other than threatening the extinction of the United States. There's better ways to reduce the national debt than reducing our country to ashes.

It's time to tell the Republicans to put down the nukes already.

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