A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
July 29th, 2011
By Dan Miller
The Dem position on spending simply cannot end well for them. (Update: Boehner bill passes House, And the Next Move Is…?)
If there is no debt limit increase soon, the credit ratings of the United States will go down. If there is a deal but with no significant and credible reduction in spending soon, the credit ratings will go down. Standard and Poor’s does not yet expect a default; it is concerned that there must be “a ‘credible’ plan to increase the debt ceiling that also reduces the long-term budget deficit”:
Speaking publicly for the first time about the fiscal standoff, S&P President Deven Sharma said Wednesday that the bigger risk is a downgrade in the nation’s AAA credit rating because Congress and the White House cannot agree on a package of spending cuts and possible revenue increases. (emphasis added)
A diminished credit rating will increase the interest rates the government and the private sectors have to pay for new borrowing. Mr. Sharma, the president of Standard and Poor’s, commented:
A credit rating downgrade would force the U.S. to increase the interest rates on benchmark Treasury securities, a move that would have a cascading effect throughout the financial markets. Borrowing costs for mortgages and credit cards would rise, and mutual funds, pension funds and other investments would take a major hit.
This would be very unfortunate in an economy already worse than merely anemic. It would also diminish tax revenues, rather than increase them:
The U.S. economy stumbled badly in the first half of 2011 and came dangerously close to contracting in the January-March period, raising the risk of a recession if a stand-off over the nation’s debt does not end quickly.
The “risk” of a recession is already great. However, the debt is a symptom, not the cause. Nor is our debt likely to be diminished by increasing it — at higher cost:
The Commerce Department data on Friday also showed the current lull in the economy began earlier than had been thought, with the growth losing steam late last year.
That raised questions on the long held view by both Federal Reserve officials and independent economists that the slowdown in growth this year was mostly due to transitory factors. …
The economy grew at a 1.3 percent annual pace in the second quarter after expanding just 0.4 percent in the first three months of the year. First-quarter growth was revised from the previously reported 1.9 percent increase.
The Democrats demand, for political rather than economic reasons, a debt limit deal sufficient to carry the country through the November 2012 elections but with no significant and credible spending cuts. Former Speaker Pelosi wants to save the world as she likes it; she probably would prefer an even better world, as it was for her before the 2010 elections. And, of course, she is a mother; our government must, in her view, behave as a mother to her children.
The Republicans, particularly the “Tea Party Terrorists” — who “represent a clear and present danger to the United States of America and … must be stopped before it is too late” — refused to go along with the Boehner bill because it was flaky with inadequate credible spending cuts, because Senator Reid had declared it Dead on Arrival in the Senate if it passed the House, and because President Obama had promised, several times — most recently on July 29 — to veto it should it unexpectedly reach his desk for signature. Next up in the House after it passes the Senate will most likely be an even flakier Reid bill, probably amended slightly to secure quick Senate passage. The Republican opposition to it in the House will most likely surpass that to the Boehner bill.
Assume, however, that there are enough Democrats and Republicans in the House to pass the Reid bill (update: Boehner bill passes House) and that President Obama will sign it. The U.S. credit ratings will still go down because it will be clearer than ever before that the U.S. will increasingly continue to spend more than it receives in revenues; unless our already less than meager economic recovery improves dramatically, those revenues will continue to decline and government costs will continue to increase. The near certainty of another eventual debt limit “crisis” will add to the incentives for a credit rating drop — regardless of whether it happens before or after the November elections.
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